Like many who travel to Cuba my initial visit in 2015 was based simply as intrigue. I wanted to see the country for myself. I knew very little of the people and the culture. Prior to that first visit I had to absorb myself with whatever knowledge I could find. About a week before my trip I popped into Eso Won bookstore in Leimert Park. They happened to have two recent books on Cuba so I grabbed both. Unfortunately, I was not able to read them until I returned.
Race in Cuba
Once I read “Race in Cuba” I was blown away. While Cuban’s define themselves as ONE, the vestiges of racism and color take on a new dimension even in Cuba. So, while my initial interest in going to Cuba was simply to check out the country, I quickly changed my focus and wanted to learn more about “The Negro League and Cuban baseball and further explore the dynamic of race. Later that year I dialogued with the author of the book, professor Esteban Morales Dominquez and he shared many essays he had written on race, politics, even covering President Barack Obama.
Since then we have become very close friends and he is one of my top authorities regarding issues relating to Cuba.
Even though Professor Esteban is retired his voice is sought from across the globe. He pens relevant essays on a regular basis and they are embraced because of the perspective readers are offered.
I am pleased to announce that Professor Esteban has agreed for some of his writings to appear on ThomasReports. Even this week there has been a storm of controversy regarding the comments Senator Bernie Saunders made in mentioning a positive attribute of the Castro regime. I have asked Professor Esteban to chime in. So, stay tuned.
Professor Esteban Morales Dominguez is retired from the University of Havana. He is a well sought-after author who holds two pHD’s in economics and history, one being from Russia. He and his wife Katia reside in Havana.
There’s the Hammer (Hank Aaron), and there’s the Cobra (Dave Parker) and so many other great African-American professional baseball players who earned their unique nicknames. Then there’s the Hawk, the nickname given to Andre Dawson.
In 2008 as part of their outreach and recognition of Black History Month, Major League Baseball launched the Urban Invitational Classic to showcase the talent of HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Over the last several years the name was changed to recognize “The Hawk” and is now called the Andre Dawson Classic. Dawson played his college ball at famed Florida A & M. The games will be featured on the MLB network so check your local provider for game times.
SAT. FEB. 15TH
Southern University (HBCU) faces Alcorn State (HBCU) at 2:00 p.m. ET, then the University of New Orleans plays Grambling State University (HBCU) at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Today the Negro Leagues commemorates its 100th birthday. Starting in 1920, the Negro Leagues became an institution for African-Americans who had professional talent to play but were denied to join Major League Baseball.due to racial discrimination that was the law of the day.
The league has come and gone but today its greatness can be seen as communicated by the Negro League Baseball Museum. Even though the “old” Negro leagues started in the late 1800’s, it was nearly forty years later when Rube Foster had the vision to organize teams for the masses to enjoy.
The contribution of the league is of great folklore to United States history.
Above caption: L.A. lands Betts in blockbuster trade, MLB
For over thirty years the Los Angeles Dodgers have been trying to win the World Series. They have come close and in the past decade they have regularly won their division. In the past three years they made it to game seven of the World Series only to lose to the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox respectively. Enough is enough!! For their 2020 run they have a lot at stake. Among other things they will host the All-Star game. As they prepare for spring-training in a couple of days, up until yesterday it looked like business as usual; favored to win their division but a longshot of getting back to the World Series.
Yesterday evening they vaulted as the perennial favorite to be thronged as 2020 World Serieschamps, at least on paper. They grabbed superstar Mookie Betts and David Price from the Boston Red Sox. Both are impact players the Dodgers badly need if are to be taken seriously. Betts brings all of the tools which have made him a coveted “find.” Price brings a veteran arm to strengthen a pitching corps which recently saw Hyun-jin Ryu and Kenta Maeta depart via trades.
The bigger picture
Professional sports is a lucrative business. Like any organization or corporate body, they are defined by how they embrace corporate responsibility. When the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson in 1945 as the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball (M.L.B.), it was more than just a regular signing. He made his debut on April 15, 1947 and it was a turning point in our society. The Dodgers were rewarded then and up until recently by many, particularly the African-American community for taking a gesture that can be traced as the beginning of the modern civil rights era. People, even those who didn’t live in Brooklyn or for that matter weren’t necessarily baseball fans, the Dodgers became their favorite team.
Jackie Robinson’s legacy gets stronger every year especially for those who have access to information like never before. Unfortunately for the Dodgers all of the goodwill from their Jackie Robinson connection has recently come under question. Last year the genie came out of the bottle as the media started reporting what many had known: the 2019 team did not have one African-American player on their roster. To the chagrin of many, yes David Roberts who is the manager is African-American and some have African ethnicity but it was an eyesore that could not be explained, especially in Los Angeles. A city that prides itself as a leader of a diverse population. There are many reasons for the lack of African-American players but it was a new level of hypocrisy for the Dodgers to tout the signing of Robinson and round out their 2019 roster with a goose-egg.
Interestingly, both Betts and Price hail from Tennessee. Their presence gets the Dodgers off the hook from a social and community perspective and more important their talent may be what is needed for them to get to the World Series and claim the crown. In the meantime, only time will tell as winning is the name of the game. While much has been written about the Robinson phenomenon, to their credit M.L.B. has taken on a strategy of incorporating more players of color by internationalizing the game. While there has been a dearth of African-American players there has been a spike of players coming from the Caribbean and beyond (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela and of course Puerto Rico). So, the bottom line is the Betts, Price trade to the Dodgers allows them to refocus the spotlight on something positive versus something negative.
Fred Thomas, III is a lifelong Dodgers fan having attended his first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with his father and older brother in the late ’50’s.