Archibold: This Cuban defector changed baseball, and nobody remembers

From Randal C. Archibold at the New York Times on March 18, 2016, with mention of SABR member Peter C. Bjarkman:

The poster, the only prominent piece of memorabilia, hangs in the back of the shed next to the dusty old suitcase, a row of unused candles and a pile of VHS tapes, a few bearing the label “Cuba Baseball.”

Whenever Rene Arocha goes for the lawn mower, he can see it, his younger self, No. 43 of the St. Louis Cardinals circa 1993, caught in the familiar hunched-over, leg-up pose of a pitcher hurtling something toward the plate.

It is a tucked-away reminder of his fleeting fame, a fame that he has sought to tuck away himself after a career that began with a flash of hope but ultimately fizzled in disappointments and unfulfilled expectations.

“I am hidden here,” he said with a laugh, at the nondescript peach bungalow-style house here where he lives, with a beat-up 1990s sedan on the lawn, a motorboat in the side yard, squawking parrots on the back patio and a pregnant cat making the rounds.

Yet, with one simple but rebellious move, he changed baseball.

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Originally published: March 18, 2016. Last Updated: March 18, 2016.