Paulas: From Ghost Town to Havana: two teams, two countries, one game

From Rick Paulas at Longreads on September 20, 2017:

When I asked San Francisco Bay Area filmmaker Eugene Corr why he took nine youth baseball players from an impoverished section of West Oakland to Cuba back in 2010, I knew I’d get a distilled version of reality. In Corr’s documentary about the trip, Ghost Town to Havana, he mentions his own fractured relationship with his father, a former youth baseball instructor, so I figured that’d fit in somewhere. Along with the magic of the bat-and-ball sport that binds together the capitalist and socialist countries that have 103 miles of sea between them.

But what I didn’t expect was that the whole trip happened because Corr got mad at George W. Bush.

“I still think the Iraq War was a historic mistake,” Corr says, over coffee near his Berkeley home. “So much that’s gone wrong with the world seems to stem from that. I was so angry about that, I did three things. I bought a headstone for my grandmother’s grave in a cemetery in Richmond, I started a screenwriting program at San Quentin, and I went to Cuba.”  

While roaming the streets of Havana on the technically illegal trip, Corr heard the familiar cracks of the bat and snaps in the mitt, and followed those sounds to a small field. He found a group of Cuban youngsters taking baseball instructions from a man in his 60s “with the body of a 17-year-old,” says Corr, fit from daily bike rides and Cuba’s rationed diet of eggs, rice, and beans. The man was Nicolas Reyes, and despite Corr’s broken Spanish, they hit it off.

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Originally published: September 20, 2017. Last Updated: September 20, 2017.