When: Tue., July 23, 7:05 p.m. 2013
One of the casualties of the 50-year diplomatic breach between Cuba and the United States is the pipeline of Cuban baseball talent to major league baseball. Before the barriers went up for good in the mid-1960s, Cuba was a fertile breeding ground for avid baseball players, including Fidel himself. Look through your baseball cards from the 1960s and '70s, and you'll see such commonplace Cubans as Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Tony Perez, Sandy Amorós, Luis Tiant and Bert Campaneris.
Later Cubans would have a more difficult path, none more than Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who traveled by raft to Yankee Stadium, more or less. More recently, phenom du jour Yasiel Puig defected to Mexico, whereupon he signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After making his debut June 3, he was hitting .391 with eight homers going into the All-Star break.
Now the Cuban national team is on a five-game friendship tour of the U.S., returning the favor after los yanquis made a similar trip a year ago. We're not sure who will be on Cuba's roster, but the American lineup will include many freshman and sophomore college All-Americans, including N.C. State pitcher Carlos Rodon, N.C. State infielder Trea Turner and UNC outfielder Skye Bolt. —David Fellerath