Friday, April 01, 2005
Fidel Castro Cut From Washington Senators
Editor's Note: This is a work of fiction--note the publication date--and virtually all facts contained herein, with the exception of a few minor ones regarding the '48 Senators, should be regarded as such.
This is a story that has been covered up for many, many years but can finally be told, thanks to the efforts of Juan el Bromista, a Cuban historian who only recently made his escape from Cuba after repeated efforts and managed to find the remaining evidence he needed to prove that Castro came to America and pitched. Although el Bromista has not yet found a publisher for his work, tentatively titled Cuento de un Tonto, certain members of SABR's Cuban Baseball Chapter were provided with copies of the manuscript and one passed it on to me.
It is widely passed off as fact that although rumors abound of Fidel Castro having a try-out with either the Washington Senators or New York Yankees, there is no basis in fact for this and that Castro in fact did not even possess the talent necessary to attract the attention of scouts in Cuba, let alone pitch in the Major Leagues. As el Bromista has discovered, this was part of a determined effort between the
Castro never did pitch in an official Major League game, but that is not to say he never pitched against Major League hitters. In the winter of 1948-49, the Senators' Cuban scout Guillermo Mentira spotted the twenty-two year old Castro pitching for a semi-professional team outside of
Naturally, the baseball mad Castro took up Mentira on his offer and went to camp with the Senators. The 1948 Senators had lost ninety-seven games, finishing with a team ERA of 4.65, better than only two others in the American League. Manager Joe Kuhel was therefore intrigued by the young hurler who was able to keep his hitters puzzled so long as he remained ahead in the count and was not forced to throw his mediocre fastball for a strike, where it would typically be hammered. Although Kuhel was impressed by Castro's collection of pitches, he finally came to the conclusion that the Cuban needed more time to develop either greater control of his breaking pitches to allow him to pitch ahead in the count more consistently, or an improved fastball so he could throw it with confidence when behind in the count. With this in mind less than three weeks before the season was to start, Kuhel explained to Castro that the team was looking to send him down to the minors until they thought he was ready, hopefully later that season.
Showing the spark that would eventually led the young man to bigger things, Castro was furious and refused his assignment, instead deciding to go home to
So why has this story so long been covered up? Well, each of the parties had their reason. For the Cuban government, the notion that their leader would not be leading the revolution but rather playing baseball, for salary, in
Thanks to the amazing work of Juan el Bromista however, the truth can finally be told. He has managed to turn up multiple records of Castro's pitching in