At a dinner in one of Fidel Castro’s palaces in 1999, the Cuban leader told Major League Baseball executives about the great possibilities for the game of baseball if the United States and Cuba normalized diplomatic and economic ties, the New York Times reports.
“Fifteen years after that dinner, the vision of an active relationship between Cuba and Major League Baseball became a little more real Wednesday after President Obama’s announcement that he planned to restore full diplomatic relations with the island nation.”
“When Castro took power in 1959, Cuba’s pool of talented baseball players — one of the largest outside the United States — became off limits to major league teams, except for the stream of players who escaped the island and defected. The 19 Cuban-born players who were major leaguers in all or part of the 2014 season — like Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig — made up the highest number since 1967, when there were 30. But scouts and general managers have said it would be far higher if teams could send representatives to Cuba and sign players, and then develop them.”
“Significant foreign policy announcements from Washington do not usually prompt the baseball commissioner’s office or the players union to respond. But in the hours after Obama addressed the nation Wednesday, both released terse statements saying that they were monitoring the situation.”