Tag Archives: Fidel Castro

Baseball after Fidel Castro

July 25, 1959 | HAVANA, CUBA ā€“ Playing minor league baseball in Cuba after Fidel Castro took over became a risky venture.Ā  On this date in 1959 a game between Rochester, New York from the International League and the Sugar Kings, an independent team from Havana, was abruptly halted when wild, jubilant gunfire broke out in and around the ball park.

It spilled into the stands. With the game tied in the 12th shots rang out in the direction of the field as Rochester mounted a rally. Havana shortstop Leo Cardenas, who later had a 16-year major league career, was grazed in the shoulder. Rochester third base coach Frank Verdi, was struck in the head. Fortunately, he had head-gear on because he’d been in the lineup earlier in the game. Neither was seriously hurt.

After this frightening display of fire power, the players and umpires quickly left the field. After things calmed down the league president said the game would be continued later that Sunday afternoon. The Rochester Red Wings wanted no part of that. After one more tense night in a Havana hotel, the team left Cuba for Miami. The Havana Sugar Kings played one more season in Cuba, then were relocated to New Jersey.

ā€œGunfire in the Ballpark,ā€ BASEBALL-ALMANAC
The Baltimore Sun, July 27, 1959, “Game is called: Rain of bullets”