Fidel Castro Dies; Controversial Cuban Leader Altered Baseball World

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Fidel Castro, Cuba’s longtime revolutionary leader and former dictator, died Friday night, according to his brother, Raul Castro, who now is the nation’s president.

Raul Castro made this announcement on state-run television, via ABC News: “Today, November 25, at 10:29 p.m., the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz passed away. In compliance with the expressed will of Companion Fidel, his remains will be cremated. In the early hours of Saturday 26, the funeral organizing committee will provide our people with detailed information on the organization of the posthumous Homage to the founder of the Cuban Revolution. Ever onward to victory!”

Fidel Castro, who turned 90 in August, was a noted lover of baseball, and myths that he once tried out as a pitcher for a Major League Baseball team proved to be just that. What wasn’t a myth was that, under Castro’s rule, many baseball players were forced to flee Cuba to seek their fortune in the United States.

A British newsreel captured rare footage of Castro playing baseball in 1959, when he first took power in the small island nation.

Castro stepped down as Cuba’s president in 2008 because of an illness. The U.S. and Cuba resumed diplomatic relations in 2014, and President Obama visited the country in March to watch the Tampa Bay Rays face the Cuban national team.

A major league team hadn’t played in Cuba since 1999, when the Baltimore Orioles met the Cuban national team for two games.

Thumbnail photo by Antonio Milena/Wikimedia Commons

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