Friday, November 02, 2007

When the Dodgers and the Reds played in Havana in 1959

Torrential rains in Florida in March 1959 forced the cancellation of so many spring training games that Cincinnati Reds general manager Gabe Paul called Bobby Maduro, president of the Cuban Sugar Kings of the Triple A International League, to ask whether he could take his Cincinnati team to Cuba for the weekend. Maduro was thrilled, and with only one day's notice, arranged a three-game series in Havana at the Gran Stadium, now the Estadio Latinoamericano, between Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Rain delayed the Reds arrival, and eventually only two games were played.

In the first game, Don Drysdale pitched seven innings and "cha-cha-chaed through the ranks of the Reds with virtual disdain," reported the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers won 3-2. The next day, Sandy Koufax pitched five innings, and Carl Erskine got the victory in the Dodgers' 4-3 win.

Havana fans were delighted to see Duke Snyder, Jim Gilliam, and John Roseboro. And the Times's game story featured some gems such as "several score of pistol packing rebels were in the stadium today." The games were played less than three months after Fidel Castro had ousted Batista.

Full Count
Inside Cuban Baseball
Milton H. Jamail
Southern Illinois University Press
Carbondale and Edwardsville


JG: Who makes it impossible for this to happen again? George W. Bush!

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