Baseball in Cuba

April 15, 2010 8:55 am

Q: How do you write and say “homerun” in Spanish?

A: Jonrón, pronounced “hone-run.”

Of all the experiences I went to Cuba hoping to have, attending a baseball game topped the list. Cubans are crazy about their national sport, and despite my — I’ll admit it — general ambivalence toward the game in the U.S., I knew it would be unlike any sporting event stateside. Plus, I think my visit would have felt incomplete without witnessing such a central aspect of Cuban culture.

Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect; we arrived on the island just as the 2010 Campeonato, the annual Cuban baseball championship, was gearing up to start. This year the opposing teams were the Industriales of Havana (who ended up winning the seven-game series) and Villa Clara from Santa Clara. Magically, our tour guide finagled for us to squeeze in for a few innings of one of the sold-out championship games during our stint in Santa Clara. “They are visiting Cuba from Canada and all they came here to do is see a baseball game! You’ll break their hearts if they can’t go in!” he begged the guards.

The energy and intensity in the stadium was unrivaled. Villa Clara fans cheered as though they never had before every time a new orange-clad batter stepped up to the plate, horns sounded nonstop and drums pounded throughout — and this was only the first half of the game.

I captured some scenes from the game in the video below, including our walk into the stadium (yes, that is an American wearing the Yankees shirt in front of me) with everyone unabashedly sizing us up, the “beating” of a stuffed lioness — a lion is the Industriales‘ mascot — and a good-natured memorabilia exchange between two rival fans.

Karina for TKGO

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  • rafael quezada

    Enjoyed the article and video very much. Good to see an unpolitical side of Cuba.

  • What an amazing opportunity!! I would love to visit Cuba. Thanks for sharing such a unique side of Cuban culture.

  • I love this video! You can absolutely see just what you were explaining in the article. It feels like I’m there! How cool to get such an insider’s glimpse of the culture in Cuba!

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