Cover image for Pitching around Fidel : a journey into the heart of Cuban sports
Pitching around Fidel : a journey into the heart of Cuban sports
Price, S. L. (Scott L.), 1962-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ecco Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
279 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV592.C82 P75 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In an artful pastiche of observation, personal narrative, interviews, and investigative reporting, S.L. Price, a Senior Writer for "Sports Illustrated, describes sports and athletes in today's Cuba. On his many journeys to the island, Price finds a country that celebrates sports like no other and a leader who uses athletics as both symbol and weapon in his country's dying revolution.

With Castro's regime staggering beneath the weight of a great depression and international sanctions, Cuba's famed sports machine is imploding. Athletes are defecting by plane and raft. Superstars bike to games and train with shoddy equipment in bare gyms; and champion boxers, baseball players, and gymnasts are forced to scrounge for spare change on the streets. In 1959, when Castro rose to power, he declared a new era in Cuban baseball. Within four years all professional Cuban sports had been outlawed, and Castro condemned as traitors those athletes who defected to the United States in search of product endorsements and six-figure salaries.

In interviews with Teofilo Stevenson, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, and Ana Quirot, S.L. Price unearths the truth about sports in Cuba and explores the complex reasons that drive athletes of promise to flee their homeland. Beyond an examination of sports in the hothouse of revolution, "Pitching Around Fidel presents a vibrant and realistic portrait of Cuba today, complete with sex-happy toursits, blackouts, Fidel's famous

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Fidel Castro eliminated professional sports in Cuba and, through an educational program that emphasized youth participation, created an amateur sports culture that was successful out of all proportion to the country's size. Price, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, presents an intimate view of the country's sports culture four decades after the revolution. Trade embargoes, a failing economy, and the end of support from the Soviet Union have left the country--and its once proud sports programs--in shambles. Superstar Cuban athletes live in shacks but are bombarded daily by tales of the good life in Miami. Pride in the revolution, which once fueled superior athletic performance, is virtually nonexistent, fueling widespread defections of Cuban athletes. Price makes it all very personal via interviews with former great athletes, such as boxer Teofilo Stevenson--who some say was the equal of Ali. A fascinating study of one aspect of Cuban culture. --Wes Lukowsky YA: A good entree for high-school students interested in Cuban culture. BO.

Library Journal Review

Price, a writer for Sports Illustrated, made many trips to Cuba and interviewed countless athletes, fans, and politicos for this fascinating account of contemporary Cuban sports. During Castro's rule, his country has produced myriad baseball, boxing, volleyball, and track champions, but recent defections and other signs of discontent indicate that the national system for developing and supporting world-class players is crumbling. Economic, political, and social depression have driven Cuban superstars such as Orlando "El Duque" Hern ndez and Rey Ordo$ez to seek asylum in the United States. Here they found inflated fame and fortune, of course, and the author also takes U.S. major leagues to task for devaluing loyalty between teams and players. Colorful characters abound in chapters that are part travelog, part expos. Highly recommended for public libraries.--Will Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.