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by Ana Lorena

Watch Cuban kids playing baseball in Havana and you can feel yourself transported back to an idyllic 1950s America. This is essence of home-spun, enthusiastic, non-commercial, passionate and local. Mix in a little apple pie, ignore the crumbling architecture and you would be there. This short and simple video by Lou shows a typical training session for young Cuban baseball players practicing for their own little league. See if you can spot competitive dad!

A baseball bat and ball is one of the most treasured gifts any kid can get for Christmas or his birthday. It’s one of those presents a Cuban boy will put to use right away, regardless of the blistering sun or even the rain. And if the gift is a baseball glove, then it’s like putting them on cloud nine. What kid in Cuba hasn’t spent the afternoons trying to hit a homerun or make a diving catch just to be able to boast about how good he is? Yes, they want to play baseball because in this country being a baseball icon is nothing short of being a superhero.

And parents are just as keen about baseball as their children. For kids, it’s a passionate game and just plain fun; for their moms, it’s the peace of mind that comes from knowing their little ones are safe from any harm. But for their dads, well, let’s just say it’s a lot more than just fun and safety. They take their kids to train at the nearest sports center (sometimes this is just a field big enough to practice the game) secretly hoping that they will become one of the greats, that their names will one day make the golden list of baseball players in Cuba.

Sure, school is important -very important- . But if you’re a Cuban boy and want to make your father proud, showing some talent for baseball and being selected to join the little league should do the trick! The brightest, most talented prospects get to go to sports schools and from there, after much training and many competitions, the best are chosen for the provincial teams. And from there, to the Cuba Team, which is the ultimate dream of every little leaguer.

Back at the neighborhood, however, playing ball ensures kids a safe and healthy way of spending their free time. And although volleyball and soccer have gained popularity in Cuba over the years, it is baseball that still causes heated arguments between friends, makes two strangers talk like they’ve known each other forever while they wait in line to catch a bus, and attracts millions of spectators to the stadiums that are scattered throughout the island, while millions more -children included- follow the games that are broadcast on radio and television.

Kids today, adults tomorrow, like their parents before them, they too will shout themselves hoarse in support of their own kids playing school baseball or simply in some empty lot around the hood.

Baseball reigns supreme among sports in Cuba, and kids zealously follow their teams’ performances during the season series, dreaming that one day they will be able to change the grandstand for the diamond.

Thanks to LaHabana.com for this article.

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