Fidel was a long-time baseball fan and often attended Sugar Kings games at Gran Stadium. In fact, Castro had been a pitcher during his days at the University of Havana. On July 24th, 1959, Castro staged an exhibition game between Los Barbudos and the Cuban National Police prior to a game between the Sugar Kings and the Rochester Red Wings.
The organizers of the event decided that Comandante Camilo Cienfuegos (Fidel’s right hand man, next to Ché of course) could represent the Police as a pitcher. The “Hero of Yaguajay” (as Cienfuegos was known) refused, stating “I won’t be against Fidel, in life or in baseball.” Barbudos used Cienfuegos as their catcher and he ended up being Fidel’s battery mate, taking over from Guerra Matos (who was the country’s Sports Director).
The team was managed by Eduardo Castellano and included such players as Raul Catala, Laudelio Reyes, Alfredo Carvajal, Ilcibiades Santos, Ruben Tamayo, Ronaldo Sanchez, Amador Torres, Ramiro Rodriguez, Sergio Garcia and Bernardo Hechavarria, who later went on to play professional ball.
Below are some photographs from the game:
|Rebel Camilo Cienfuegos (L) during baseball game.|
|Rebels Fidel Castro (C) and Camilo Cienfuegos (L) during baseball game.|
|Fidel Castro (C) and Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado (L).|
|Camilo Cienfuegos & Fidel Castro|
|Fidel gets a generous call to strike out the hitter.|
|Fidel signs autographs for the umpires pre-game.|
|Camilo Cienfuegos, Raul Castro & Fidel Castro|
|Camilo Cienfuegos (aka the Hero of Yaguajay) signs autographs.|
|The Hero of Yaguajay suffers an equipment malfunction.|
|A meeting of the minds.|
|Fidel Castro, #19|
|Fidel Castro and the team captain of the Cuban National Police.|
|Fidel warms up.|
|Raul Castro & Fidel Castro|
|Fidel Castro rockin' the coke bottle glasses.|
|Fidel slams a "refresco"|
|Barbudos players mingle with the Sugar Kings.|
(LIFE © Time Inc., via MopUpDuty)