Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Jose Contreras lives the American Dream

New York Yankee pitcher
Jose Contreras has a $32 million
contract with the team, a $5
million dollar home in Tampa
and all the cars he wants. But
last week he got the most
important thing of all,
his family.

By Amaury Pi-Gonzalez
SeattleJose Contreras wife Miriam
and their two daughters
defected Cuba last week
in a 30 foot boat with
21 people aboard the Florida
straights. After Contreras
defected the Cuban communist
government refused to let
Jose’s family leave for the
US. So on Sunday the
27th of June in Yankee
Stadium the Contreras family
watched him pitch for the
first time in the US and
almost in two years.
He pitched 6 innings struck
out 10 and gave up only
2 hits to the Mets winning
the game.

Fidel Castro’s communist
system has been a failure
in Cuba, not because the
US blockade but because
that system of government
is a bankrupt system that
survives on their threats
to its citizens. Castro has
been ruling Cuba for
45 years. Cuba is a
communist dictatorship.
I don’t care what some
“professors”teach our
youngsters in US
I have lived –repeat–
lived in Cuba(not gone there
for a 2 week vacation and tan)
and Cuba is NOT a free

Cuba always developed
good baseball players, even
before Castro was born
Cuba was a pioneer for
baseball in Latinamerica.

The very first Lastino player
to play professional baseball
in the US was Esteban Bellan
in the 1880’s for the Troy
Haymakers in New York.
The first Latino pitcher to
win 20 games was Adolfo
(Dolph)Luque with the
Cincinnati Reds in the
1920’S. The first
and only player to have
played in 5 different
decades in the Major
Leagues, 40,50,60-70
and 1980’S was Orestes
(Minnie)Minoso from Cuba.

The first player ever to
hit 40 homeruns and steal
40 bases in the same season
was Jose Canseco of the
Oakland Athletics.

Of all the Latin countries
with players in the Hall of
Fame in Cooperstown, New
York, Cuba leads the way
with two. Martin Dihigo,a
superstar that never played
professionally but according
to Cool Papa Bell and others
that played with him in the
Negro Leagues was one of
the greates players ever.
The other player who did
played in the Major Leagues
from Cuba that is enshrined
in Cooperstown, is Tany Perez
of the Big Red Machine in
the 1970’S.

Until 1961, when the US
government broke relations
with Cuba, most of the Latino
players in the Majors were
from Cuba. Presently the
overwhelming mayority of
Latinos are from the
Dominican Republic.

After Cubans learned
from Americans how to
play baseball, Cubans
then taught the game
throught Latinamerica.
There should be no
doubt that baseball
in Cuba is a tradition
that has lasted prior
to Cuba gaining it’s
independence from
Spain in 1902. Baseball
has survived in Cuba
rightwing and leftwing

There are a lot of
misguided fans that
credit Castro with
developing baseball in
Cuba. Nothing could be
further from the truth,
Cubans have always
had a passion and loved
the game of baseball
regardless of the type
of government.

Of course, because Cuba
is a “closed society”Castro
has developed more players
than ever before in the
island. The Cuban government
trains these young players
just like they also indoctrinate
them to communist phylosophies
and a hatred towards the
American system of

I once debated an old friend
of mine, an attorney by the
name of Ricardo Callejo, who
used to live in San Francisco
and was politically inclined
very much to the left. It
was in a Spanish TV station
duringt the 1980’s that I
debated Callejo, during the
Reagan years and we debated
the 40th President role in
fighting communist all over
the world. I remember Callejo
crediting Fidel Castro with
teaching all Cubans to
read and write and
free medical and free
education. I also remember
coming back after his statement
telling him very plainly:
“would you give your Freedom,
your Bill of Rights, your
Freedom of expression and
everything else you enjoy in
this Democratic country called
the US of A in a trade if the
government would provide
you with those benefits ?
He really didn’t have an

You see that is what happens
in Cuba, yes Cuba is the
most literate country in
Latin America, just about
every Cuban can read and
write, but there is also no
Free Enterprise, there is only
one employer and one employer
only, it is called The Cuban
Government ! Yes
Cubans are educated for
free and get free medical
benefits but you get that
from the government and
the government in return
owns you…

Baseball in Cuba is 100%
sponsored by the government,
like most other Sports. I remember
when Castro called Jose Contreras
“el mejor lanzador Cubano”
(the best Cuban pitcher),
however, once he defected
and became a NY Yankee
Castro calls him a “traitor
to the revolution”. Anybody
that disagrees with Castro
is a traitor of course.
He announces that during
the elections every few
years he wins by almost
100% of the vote. Sure, there
is no oposition party, of course
he gets 100% of the vote !
If you believe there are
free elections in Cuba then
you will also buy a beachfront
property in Phoenix.

The Castro system is collapsing
all around him he is close to
80 and when he goes Cuba
will start to become a different
place. Castro is a decrepit
leader that knows his system
is the one that eventually
will change, he knows the
USA is not going to convert
to communism and join him
in the fight against capitalism.

I knew when I left my native
country of Cuba in 1961
that someday
Cubans would be free and
“beisbol”will be free and
players would be able to
leave the country legally
and American scouts could
travel to Cuba and sign
young talented players.

I believe we are getting
closer and closer to that
day and to a day when
Cuban players do not
have to risk their lives
and their families defecting
in homemade dingies
from Cuba heading north
to Florida. Cuba had a
professional team in
the International League
until 1960 it was the
Cuban Sugar Kings, it
was and still is the only team
that played in the US pro
leagues (AAA)with a home
outside the continenal
United States of America.

According to Amnesty
International close
to 100,000 people could
have lost their lives
trying to escape Cuba
by water during the
past 40 years of
the Castro dictatorship.

Jose Contreras is a happy
man not because he is
rich but because he
always wanted to be
a pitcher and have his
family next to him
watching pitch. However,
it doesn’t hurt to be a
pitcher for the New York
Yankees in the Major
Leagues. Congratulations
Jose and now you are
really free !
Amaury Pi-Gonzalez is on his 10th
season as Spanish Play by Play
announcer for the San Francisco Giants
over KZSF 1370AM (La Caliente)in
the Bay Area calling selected
weekend games. In the late
90’S he traveled with Giants
and called all games home
and away. For 17 seasons
Amaury was the Spanish Voice
for the Oakland A’S.
Presently Amaury is
on his second season with
the Spanish Mariners Baseball
Network. See:
a group of 5 Spanish stations
covering the State of Washington.
This past February he was inducted
into the CSHOF(Cuban Sports Hall
of Fame)in Miami as a Sports Journalist.
Amaury is the Vice President of
the Hispanic Heritage Baseball
Museum, a non profit organization
founded in San Francisco in 1999.


1 Anonymous { 06.28.04 at 12:38 pm }

what a great piece of writing.Castro will not live forever
and let’s hope cuba will be free again. Imagine tourism
and trade and medicine going to cuba. Imagine people
being able to pursue their dreams.
Viva Cuba Libre

jerry f

2 Anonymous { 06.29.04 at 4:22 pm }

Amaury: Many years ago, I believe in the early to mid-thirties. the Giants had a very good relief pitcher, named Dolf Luque. I believe he came from Cuba, but it’s been a long time since I thought of him. He paired with another relief pitcher, Herman Bell. The two of them constituted the entire relief staff. Of course, if they were in real trouble they could always call on Hubbell to get two or three outs in the ninth inning. Times sure have changed. Ed Stern

3 Anonymous { 07.07.04 at 1:23 am }

To Ed Stern: Fr: Amaury Pi-González

Yes…that is the same guy, “Dolph”is Adolfo
in English and he is Adolfo Luque. When he
pitched relief for Giants was towards the
end of his career. As a young man in 1923
he was 27-8 1.93 with the Reds. He was the
first pitcher in MLB born in Latinamerica(Cuba)
to win 20 games.
Best wishes,

4 Anonymous { 06.04.06 at 2:11 pm }
5 Anonymous { 06.15.06 at 1:33 am }
6 Anonymous { 06.17.06 at 8:07 am }
7 Anonymous { 06.20.06 at 3:59 am }

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