Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

EXCLUSIVE: More Cuban defectors

The situation inside Cuba’s
baseball is becoming intolerable
as more and more players
are defecting. These six
are the most recent
defectors.They didn’t
want to wait until
they were going to
play outside the island
to ask for Political Asylum
in the USA but they left
directly from Cuba on
their own.

By Amaury Pi-GonzálezEven though Cuba won
the Gold Medal in baseball
in the recent Olympics
in Greece, today more
than ever Cuban
players are defecting
the island.

These are the six players
that arrived in the Florida
Keys and asked for
Political Asylum in
the United States, this
past October 6th.

Yunel Escobar Almenares,
infielder, Yamel Guevara
pitcher,Johan Limonata
Zayas, outfielder all
from the the Industriales
team, the most prestigious
team in Cuba.
José Angel Cordero Valdéz
pitcher with the Metropolitanos,
Joel Pérez Mendieta an
outfielder that played
for the Isla de la Juventud
and Rafael Galvizo Figueroa,
pitcher a member of the
National Youth Team of

They all arrived in a
small boat
after spending
2 days in the Florida
straits prior to
arriving in the Florida
Keys and after a
very dangerous
escape from the
Cuban authorities
and Coast Guards.
(Although the journey
is of about 90 miles,
these are threacherous
waters infected by
sharks with many currents
and very difficult to
navegate). According
a non-partisan organization
recognized worldwide,
over 100,000 Cubans
have perished in these
waters trying to escape
to Freedom during the
past 40 years plus)
“We only hear of the people
that made it”says a
Cuban-American US
Coast Guard Officer
in Key West, Fla, and
added: “But for many,
like Elián Gonzalez
mother, they do not
make it to safety
and are never found”.

Yamel Guevara the
most famous of these
six most recent Cuban
ballplayers to arrive
guided the Industriales
team to another
title. (the Industriales
are like the NY Yankees
of Cuba, with the
exception they make
on an average
$20 dollar per month

Guevara finished the
Cuban Baseball
season with a 10-0
record and said
upon his arrival
into the US:
“Baseball in Cuba has
two faces, there is
the International
face that could be
very attractive to
players and then
there is the national
face which is very
cruel and intolerable”

The very critical
economical situation in
Cuba has almost
brought down the
next season that
opens this next
month -November.

José Angel Cordero
Valdéz, pitcher for
the Metropolitanos
said to Miami radio
at his arrival in
the Florida Keys:
“There are no gloves,
the baseballs are of the
most poor quality…it
has come to a point
were some players
use bats manufactured
at home by friends,
the pitchers have to
use the same gloves
during the games”
“Teams and players
have to share the bats,
I have known of players
that have to put nails
into their broken bats
and have cuts in their
hands and have
bled during the games”
And he ended by
saying: “If it weren’t
for the natural talent
of the Cuban ballplayers,
baseball would have
dissapeared in Cuba
a long time ago”

The six Cuban players
representative is
Claudia Arriarán who
stated that all are
under 24 years of

Yunel Escobar Almenares
infielder from the
Industriales team
was crying when
he first arrived into
the Florida Keys
and made if to
Freedom and then
said: “We have
arrived in this
great land with
youth and we
all are looking
forward to making
it to the Big Leagues”.
and concluded on
their 2-day trip:
“The worse is behind us”.

Claudia Arriarán said
of the six players
recently arrived:
“These are young
prospects among the
best of Cuba and they
all come into the US
with the hope of
making a brand new

Here in the West Coast
there is little Cuban
influence(unlike Miami
and all of Southern
Florida)but the situation
inside of Cuba today
is such that some
players are not waiting
to escape from their
teams while they’re
playing outside of
Cuba in tournaments,
but have turned to
build small home-made
crafts(just like regular
Cubans)and flee the

In past years many
Cuban ballplayers
while playing in
countries have
left their teams
or their hotels and
gone to an Embassy
to ask for Political
Asylum. But these
six players that
just recently defected
told authorities in
Miami that they know
of many more that
are just waiting for
the right moment
to leave/escape the

(Thanks to Bobby
Salamanca Jr and Jorge
Ebro of the Nuevo Herald
de Miami and also José
Hernández-Polo, one
of my contacts in
Southern Florida for
their information
to this article here
for this site)

Until 1961 when the USA
and Cuba broke Diplomatic
relations most of the
foreign born players
in the Major Leagues
were Cubans. The first
Latino player in US Pro-ball
was Esteban Bellán(Cuban)
in the 1860’S with the
NY Troy Haymakers and
the first Latino ever to
win 20 games was
Cuban born Adeolfo Luque
with the Cincinati Reds in
1923, when he won
27 games and had a
1.93 ERA.
Today the Dominican
Republic has aproximately
175 players in the Major
Leagues, but many estimate
that in a Cuba after Castro,
Cuba could regain the
leadership that once had
in the Major Leagues as
the #1 baseball talent
producer outside the
United States.
Other well known Cubans
that have played here in
the Major Leagues:
Camilo Pascual,
Pedro Ramos,José
Cardenal,Zoilo Versalles,
Tony Oliva,Leo Cárdenas,
Chico Fernández,Luis
Tiant,Mike Cuellar,
Tany Pérez(Hall of Fame),
José Canseco, Ariel Prieto,
José Contreras,Rey Ordoñez,
Rafael Palmeiro,Cookie Rojas,
Tony Taylor,Liván Hernández,
Osvaldo Fernández, Tony Fosas,
Barbaro Garvey,René Arocha.
These are just a few to
“refresh our collective

Radio Martí is a short-wave
250,000 Watts station in
the East Coast of the US
that sends its signal of
Major League Baseball
to Cuba during selected
games. During the past
few seasons I had
the honor of sending
to Cuba via Radio Martí
broacasts in Spanish
for the San Francisco
Giants as well as the
Seattle Mariners.
Although there is no
any regular US Network
in Cuba, Cubans are
known to follow Major
League Baseball anyway
they can. In Cuba the
Internet is also prohibited
by the Government and
Cuban television broadcasts
on the average of 4 hours
per day, owned and operated
by the government. No foreign
shows are shown on Cuban
Television unless they are
shows that glorify the
Cuban government and
criticizes their “enemies”.
For enample the Michael
Moore “Farenheit 911”
film was shown a few
times by Cuba’s Televison
by the Cuban government.
As of 2003 the population
of the Island of Cuba
largest of the Caribbean
Islands is of aproximately
11 million people.


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