Results tagged ‘ Cuba ’
1999 Photo of O’s vs Cuba game taken with an old KODAK throw-a-way!
This week MLB returns to Cuba for the first time in 15 years. This time they will be taking a few players (both Cuban and American) on a Goodwill Tour. The players will be holding clinics for kids and spending time sharing baseball stories with people around the country. Its exciting to hear about the relations between our countries improving. We both love baseball so its truly a common bond.
Photo of our 1999 crew including Sandy Alderson, George Moreira.
In 1999, I was fortunate to be a part of the MLB-Cuba event when the Baltimore Orioles played the Cuba National Team at Latino Americano Stadium in Havana, Cuba. The stadium and field required a bit of upgrading before the game could take place so Sandy Alderson (at that time MLB’s Senior VP of Ops) asked us to put together a team to make it happen. Our American crew consisted of Al Capitos, Budgie Clark, Greg Meeks and several groundskeepers from Varadera golf course. We helped rebuild the field, outfield fence, etc.. with our Cuban friends and as they say “The rest was history.” I’ve been back a few times since and will be heading back this week to check out a few fields and stadiums. The country hasn’t changed a lot since those early days which is actually a pretty cool thing. Its a living history lesson from an earlier time in North American culture. Looking forward to having a real Mojito and seeing some old friends along the way!
As part of the USA–Cuba Friendly Game Series this week, we held the 1st MLB Field Clinic in Havana this week. The Cuban Baseball Federation invited us to lecture on baseball field maintenance at Estadio Latino Americano. All 16 pro clubs from the country had representation at the clinic. What these guys have to work with would amaze many of you. Picture yourself having only a residential riding mower, 4 rakes, 4 shovels, no tarp, no clay, no soil conditioner, weed control, ant control, etc…. to prepare for an international tournament in front of thousands of people. These guys do this everyday. I just love the passion the people in Cuba exhibit for the game of baseball. That passion was also evident in the groundskeepers that care for the fields. I have had the privilege of traveling to this country several times.
It was the first time all these guys were together and you would have thought they had known each other forever. We did a slide show to talk about materials and maintenance processes then went to the field for hands on training. Typically hands-on means most are watching but this event had all of the guys heavily involved. They really enjoyed the Sports Turf Management slides ( WWW.STMA.ORG ) as they were translated in Spanish. Such a great exchange between friends in sportsturf. Hearing stories about their fields and issues was no different than sitting in a room with my peers in the states.
They have created a pretty good clay for the island. Drains well and is designed to wick water past a certain point. Then it will firm up. On opening night of the series, we had an inch of rain and puddles of water all over the infield. With no big tarp to cover the field and we still played in under two hours.
Havana – After a crazy rain delay USA battles Cuba in the opener of the freindly series 4-3. The teams used to play each other pretty back in the early 90’s and now they started a new set of annual games. The Cuban players played are seasoned squad and the college level USA team did a pretty good job handling them. A great game on a very wet night. After an 1 1/2 rain delay we finally got the game rolling. Heavy rains fell for an hour. No tarp was available so it was back to old school groundskeeping. Awesome ground crew with Juan, Orlando and Elier.
After a 3 hour rain delay and 6 1/2 tarp pulls the Dutch started the gold medal game in panama at 840pm and ended it with a win over Cuba. What a performance by both clubs as the final score was 2-1. A light rain fell on the field the entire night and for a while it seemed the game would never start but with a great effort by the tarp crew at Rodney Carew stadium we were able to out maneuver the rain. Earlier in the afternoon the USA vs canada bronze medal game was called off due to rain and what was thought to be a tie for 3rd actually became a win for Canada because they beat USA in pool play.
This is the second time i have witnessed the Dutch team win a tournament when they were not favored to win anything. The 2009 World Baseball Classic was another great win for the club after defeating the DR twice. The win at the Baseball World Cup should prove this country is a baseball power. All in all a great day for international baseball. Having the Netherlands win the gold is just another checkpoint for how far the game has developed outside of it’s origins.