U S collegiate team in Havana for friendly baseball games

U.S. collegiate team in Havana for friendly baseball games

The collegiate team of the United States is in Havana during the final week of July for five friendly matches with their Cuban counterparts.

(Soundbite) George Hodgson, Head Coach of U.S. Team
“Well, I think from Fidel Castro and Tony Castro, the Castro family, baseball has been very important to them. Baseball has been very important to the Cubans. And I can tell you from me, from being a little boy, (I have been) watching the Cubans coming to America (for the game).”

Just one year ago, both countries restored their diplomatic relations after half a century of hostility.
The series of competition has been seen as the latest sign of the rapprochement, this time through baseball instead of other diplomatic tools.

(Soundbite) George Hodgson, Head Coach of U.S. Team
“We know that the Cuban baseball is tremendous. The fact is that the opportunity is more often for the best players in Cuba to come and play in Major Baseball, and I think that is very good thing for international baseball.”

For Cubans, the visit of the American college boys is yet another opportunity to give their national team a warm-up.

(Soundbite) Roger Machado, Head Coach of Cuban Team
“I think that always playing against the United States is helpful because college players are very talented, especially in pitching. We here in Cuba do not see that pitching, especially for speed and change of ball.”

Baseball is one of Cuba’s national sports, with talented players mushrooming all the time.
Such serial games were started 1987, suspended unilaterally by the U.S. sports authorities in 1996, and revived in 2012.

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