Waldron: Havana’s forgotten Sugar Kings played key role in U.S.-Cuba relations

From Travis Waldron at the Huffington Post on March 19, 2016, with mention of SABR member Peter Bjarkman:

When President Barack Obama becomes the first sitting American president to visit Cuba since 1928 next week, the venue where he will take the next major step toward rebuilding ties will be the same place where the countries’ relationship melted down nearly six decades ago.

Naturally, it’s a baseball stadium.

The Estadio Latinoamericano, which will host a Tuesday evening game between Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and the once-vaunted Cuban national team (with Obama in attendance), was once home to a long-forgotten relic of Cuban and American baseball history: the Havana Sugar Kings, the first, and only, Cuban club to reach the Triple-A level of MLB’s minor leagues.

Sixty-two years ago next month, when the stadium was still known as the Gran Estadio de la Habana, 25,000 fans packed the stands to watch the Sugar Kings battle the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening game of the International League season.

It was a promising time for baseball, for Cuban-American relations, and, when it comes to the Sugar Kings, the prospect of bringing an actual Major League club to Havana.

Read the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/havana-sugar-kings-obama-cuba-baseball_us_56ed806ee4b084c672206b17

Originally published: March 21, 2016. Last Updated: March 21, 2016.