MAJOR LEAGUE CUBAN BASEBALL traces the experiences of Cubans at the most accomplished levels of America's national pastime - baseball - and explores their deep cultural and emotional connection to the game. In 1874, the first official baseball game was held on the island of Cuba, in defiance of Spanish colonial law. After Cuba gained its independence from Spain, the sport became an integral part of the Cuban identity. The program documents Cuban ball players' presence in the budding American professional leagues of the late 1800s, and their impact on American baseball in the early 20th century. Between 1911 and 1929 alone, 17 Cuban-born Caucasian players played in the major leagues, while Afro-Cuban players integrated into the Negro leagues and became prominent fixtures. The documentary also delves into baseball in post-revolution Cuba, when professional sports were banned on the island and many players made the difficult decision to leave for the U.S. For the hundreds of thousands of Cuban exiles who fled their country, baseball served as an elixir and the Cuban big leaguers were their heroes. In the 1970s, amateur baseball began to thrive again in Cuba, while in the U.S., Cuban players continued to have significant impact on the majors - from Tony Perez and Luis Tiant facing off in the 1975 Fall Classic to the players who are making their mark today. Weaving archival footage with interviews from historians, baseball fans, journalists, and former major leaguers Camilo Pascual, Orestes Destrade, and Tony Perez, MAJOR LEAGUE CUBAN BASEBALL chronicles the history of Cubans in the major leagues, documents the influence of baseball on Cuban culture, and examines the impact of Cubans and Cuban-Americans on the game.
Episode Duration: 56 minutes and 50 seconds
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