Wendel: The baseball book that changed my life

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on November 25, 2015:

In the summer of 1992, I made my first trip to Cuba. Nothing prepared me for what I found on the island, especially when it came to the game of baseball.

Kids not only played the game everywhere—in empty lots and in alleyways—but the level of play demonstrated by Cuba’s national team was far better than I expected. My assignment was an exhibition series between the U.S. and Cuban Olympic baseball teams on the eve of the Summer Games in Barcelona.

Back then I thought I knew everything about baseball—after all, I had just covered my first World Series, and an epic one at that, between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins (one that I would later champion as the best Fall Classic ever). But Cuba was, and in many ways still is, like no other place on earth.

The Cuban exhibition series was held in Holguin, on the eastern end of the island, and by noon the Soviet-style stadium was filled to overflowing for a 7:30 p.m. first pitch. The U.S. roster was young but loaded with players who soon establish themselves in the Major Leagues—Nomar Garciaparra, Charles Johnson, and Phil Nevin. The Cubans trounced them in consecutive evenings, and the home country’s infield, anchored by third baseman Omar Linares, was among the best I’ve ever seen.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/shoeless-joe-wp-kinsella

Originally published: November 25, 2015. Last Updated: November 25, 2015.