Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fact Checking the President's Cuba Speech

Whoever wrote the speech for the President needs a lesson in baseball history. 

The Prez said in his speech: "We share a national past time, la pelota, and later today our players will compete on the same Havana field that Jackie Robinson played on before he made his major league debut." 

That's actually incorrect. 

While Robinson did his 1946 spring training in Cuba while he was with the Montreal Royals, it was not at the same stadium where the Prez and the dictator Raul sat together (back then named El Gran Estadio de La Habana and now called Estadio Latinoamericano).  I believe that Robinson's spring training was at another stadium, perhaps the one known back then as El Cerro?

Later on, after the Dodgers bought his contract from Montreal, Branch Rickey toured the Dodgers and Robinson through some Latin American countries and had Robinson play. However, when they arrived in Havana, as it was the case back then, most Cuban hotels were segregated, and the Dodgers stayed in one hotel and Robinson stayed in a separate one, a blacks only hotel in Havana. 

He got food poisoning at his hotel and wasn't able to play in Cuba - as a Dodger - before his MLB debut in 1947. 

It is ironic that today many Cuban hotels (all of which are owned by the Cuban military - including part ownership in all the foreign corporation hotels from Spain, Canada, France, etc. as the Cuban military own all of Cuba's tourist income) are still segregated - not by race, but now by "Tourists Only" hotels where Cubans are not allowed to stay... in their own country. 

Another brutal "benefit" of the Castro Brothers' Workers Paradise.


Anonymous said...

Your recollection about Robinson is correct - it's also noted in Angel Torres book "La Leyenda del Beisbol Cubano."

Mike Torres

Anonymous said...

There were like a million articles in Cuban newspapers at the time, and how Robinson never got to play in Cuba when the Dodgers toured him through Latin America.

In fact, as I recall, he got so sick in the segregated Havana "blacks only" hotel, that the first and only place in the tour that he played in the Spring of 1947 was in Panama.