Cuba Culture

Historic Moments in Cuban Baseball History back to 1864

Posted April 22, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Culture.

San Antonio Express-News | - David King

The beginning:

1864: Nemesio Guillot brings home a bat and ball from his college studies in Springfield, Ala., introducing baseball to Cuba.

1866: Sailors from a U.S. ship docked at Matanzas demonstrate the game for workers loading sugar cane.

1871: Esteban Bellán plays for the Troy Haymakers in the National Association, baseball’s first recognized major league.

1878: The Professional Baseball League of Cuba begins play with three teams.

1890-95: Cubans introduce baseball to Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

1891: A barnstorming team, the All-Americans, becomes the first group of major-leaguers to play in Cuba.

1909: Cuban pitcher José Méndez goes 44-2 while barnstorming with Negro Leaguers in the United States.

1910: Five Cubans play minor-league baseball in the United States, and two others play in the Negro Leagues.

1911: Cubans Armando Marsans and Rafael Almeida play for the Cincinnati Reds.

1923: Dolf Luque, who in 1919 was the first Cuban to appear in a World Series, leads major-league pitchers with a 27-8 record and a 1.93 earned-run average.

1935: The New York Giants hire Dolf Luque as a coach.

1939: Cuba wins the world amateur championship in a tournament staged in Havana.

1946: A crowd of more than 31,000 sees the first game at Havana’s new Gran Estadio del Cerro ... Havana joins the Florida International League.

1947: The Brooklyn Dodgers, featuring Jackie Robinson, conduct spring training in Cuba.

1948: Representatives of Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela establish the Caribbean Series, which will be played from 1949-60 and 1970-today.

Modern times:

1951: Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso is The Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year and becomes the first Cuban to play in the All-Star Game.

1959: Gunfire related to the Cuban revolution interrupts a Triple-A game between the Havana Sugar Kings and Rochester Red Wings.

1960: The Havana Sugar Kings franchise is moved to Jersey City, N.J.

1961: Cienfuegos wins the last Cuban Professional Baseball League title; the league is disbanded by the new government and replaced by an amateur league for the 1962-63 season.

1969: Preston Gomez becomes the first Cuban to manage a big-league team when he is hired by the San Diego Padres ... Mike Cuellar is the first Cuban to win the Cy Young Award.

1977: Martín Dihigo is the first Cuban elected to the U.S. National Baseball Hall of Fame.

1979: Cuba wins the first of eight Intercontinental Cup titles.

1986: Cuban-born Jose Canseco is the AL Rookie of the Year.

1992: Cuba claims the first Olympic gold medal in baseball.

1993: The most notable of the modern-era defectors, pitcher Rene Arocha, makes his big-league debut for the St. Louis Cardinals.

1996: Cuba’s team goes undefeated in claiming its second consecutive Olympic gold medal.

1997: The Florida Marlins’ Cuban pitcher, Livan Hernández, is named the MVP in the World Series.

1999: Major-leaguers return to Cuba for the first time in 40 years for an exhibition between the Baltimore Orioles and the Cuban national team.

2000: Tony Pérez is elected to the U.S. National Baseball Hall of Fame ... Orlando “El Duque” Hernández wins his eighth postseason game without a loss in the ALCS.

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