Cover image for The pride of Havana : a history of Cuban baseball
The pride of Havana : a history of Cuban baseball
González Echevarría, Roberto.
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 464 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1320 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV863.25.A1 G65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



From the first amateur leagues of the 1860s to the exploits of Livan and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, here is the definitive history of baseball in Cuba. Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria expertly traces the arc of the game, intertwining its heroes and their stories with the politics, music, dance,and literature of the Cuban people. What emerges is more than a story of balls and strikes, but a richly detailed history of Cuba told from the unique cultural perch of the baseball diamond. Filling a void created by Cuba's rejection of bullfighting and Spanish hegemony, baseball quickly became a crucial stitch in the complex social fabric of the island. By the early 1940s Cuba had become major conduit in spreading the game throughout Latin America, and a proving ground for some ofthe greatest talent in all of baseball, where white major leaguers and Negro League players from the U.S. all competed on the same fields with the cream of Latin talent. Indeed, readers will be introduced to several black ballplayers of Afro-Cuban descent who played in the Major Leagues beforeJackie Robinson broke the color barrier once and for all. Often dramatic, and always culturally resonant, Gonzalez Echevarria's narrative expertly lays open the paradox of fierce Cuban independence from the U.S. with Cuba's love for our national pastime. It shows how Fidel Castro cannilyassociated himself with the sport for patriotic p.r.--and reveals that his supposed baseball talent is purely mythical. Based on extensive primary research and a wealth of interviews, the colorful, often dramatic anecdotes and stories in this distinguished book comprise the most comprehensivehistory of Cuban baseball yet published and ultimately adds a vital lost chapter to the history of baseball in the U.S.

Author Notes

Born and raised in Cuba, Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria is Sterling Professor of Hispanic and Comparative Literature at Yale University, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1970. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories and Myth andArchive: A Theory of Latin American Narrative, and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review. A former semi-pro catcher, he plays for the Madison Ravens of the Connecticut Senior Baseball League.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Echevarria, a literary critic and professor of Hispanic and comparative literature at Yale, has written a definitive cultural history of Cuban baseball from 1860 to the present. A former semi-pro catcher born and raised in Cuba, he currently plays in the Connecticut Senior Baseball League. According to Echevarria, baseball filled a void when Cuba rejected bullfighting and other Spanish influences. Despite all the political turbulence, the game has survived to become as much a part of Cuba's social fabric as soccer is for Brazil. The study features an excellent bibliography plus detailed notes for each chapter. The research is exhaustive, based on primary sources and interviews that include numerous anecdotes, making this an engaging read. Although this book is not for everyone, purists and historians of baseball will enjoy it. Buy where demand warrants.ÄLarry Little, Penticton P.L., B.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Written more like a work of nonfiction than an academic text, The Pride of Havana takes a long, detailed, but slow look at the history of Cuban baseball. Intended in part to counter Anglos who, Gonzalez Echevarria (Hispanic and comparative literature, Yale Univ.) contends, do not understand Latin America, the focus is on baseball as one way to understand the culture, music, and people of Cuba. He offers an interesting mix of names and dates, along with comments on social class, nationality, and race relations (including racial bias) among the Cubans. The book helps fill a historical gap in baseball history in the Americas by detailing participation in a country that not only had organized systems of teams and leagues but where many ball players from other countries, including the American Negro League, would come and play. Other baseball books with a stronger sociocultural focus are Baseball on the Border: A Tale of Two Laredos (CH, Oct'97) and Sugarball: The American Game, the Dominican Dream (CH, Jul'91), both by Alan Klein. Recommended for graduate students, faculty, and researchers. D. M. Furst; San Jose State University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
First Pitchp. 3
The Last Gamep. 14
From a House Divided to a Full Housep. 44
A Cuban Belle Époquep. 75
The Golden Agep. 112
The Great Amateur Erap. 189
The Revival of the Cuban Leaguep. 252
The Age of Goldp. 298
Baseball and Revolutionp. 352
Notesp. 407
Bibliographyp. 423
Indexp. 441