Can you imagine Fidel Castro playing baseball in his youth? Let me share with you how Fidel Castro, one of the toughest state leaders the world has ever known, is also a relative. He is my grandmother’s cousin, so suffice to say that he is a distant grand-uncle. And if he wasn’t more interested into politics than sports, he would have not ruled that long in Cuba.
Every dictator is discovered to have an “eccentric hobby”, an effort to present leaders as human beings with peculiar interests. The image of Fidel Castro playing baseball is occasionally discussed whenever topics that tackle “what ifs” are mentioned. Like “What if Fidel Castro is not the president of Cuba? What career he could have ended up with?”
Fidel Castro playing baseball is often an amusing discovery for Cuban history enthusiasts. Baseball is as American as apple pie. And here is one of the most durable politicians that ever lived on Earth surviving 638 assassination plots (stats provided by Cracked.com) being good at a sport that Americans enjoy. Then again, if you really enjoy playing the game, it does not matter where the game originated.
American influence in Cuba was evident in the 1940s. The administration at that time was backed by the United States government. Castro then was a student playing baseball at the University of Havana. He was so good at playing baseball. Soon, word got around high profile leagues like Major League Baseball of his talent.
Some scouts from teams like the Pittsburg Pirates came over to see Fidel Castro playing baseball.There was no internet then, just news sent through wires most of the time. So imagine that kind of hype for the top dogs to invest time in proving the kind of talent they have heard. Eventually, the Pirates had to send some players for an authentic critique. True enough, the future Hall of Famer that bore the brunt of Castro’s pitching skills was Hank Greenberg – three strikes and he’s out.
With Fidel Castro playing baseball at that caliber, the New York Giants eventually came in and gave him an offer that (they thought) he couldn’t refuse. $5000 signing bonus once he plays for them in the US. It took awhile for him to think of turning this offer down. Besides it was at this time that he’s starting to be critical of the US foreign policy then. The word used was “imperialism”.
It turned out to be a decision that worked well for him. A decade after refusing the Giants’ offer, Castro himself has overthrown the US-backed government. This was Fidel Castro playing baseball no more. This was Fidel Castro leading Cuba himself. 638 assassination attempts later, as of this writing, he is still alive.
Interested to know who else might be related to me? You can never tell how interesting a person’s family tree is until some research is done. And you simply have to like my official Facebook page, Kuya Manzano Fan Club, to keep an eye which relative will I write about next. You can also follow me on Twitter @kuyamanzano. Fidel Castro playing baseball is definitely not the last distant relative that I would be writing about. So stay tuned.