Author: Fred Thomas, III
Team Cuba gets busted in semis 14-2 but garners 4th place in the WBC tourney
Cover Photo - World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Cuba v United States MIAMI, FLORIDA - MARCH 19: Trea Turner #8 of Team USA celebrates with Will Smith #16 and Jeff McNeil #1 after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning against Team Cuba during the World Baseball Classic Semifinals at loanDepot park on March 19, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
In the WBC (World Baseball Classic) semis Team USA beat Team Cuba 14-2 to advance to the championship game between the winner of Japan versus Mexico to be played later today. Team USA featured an All-Star squad with many projected to earn Hall of Fame status once they are eligible. Unlike other teams who could also feature an All-Star squad to represent their country, Cuba on the other hand had to deal with the reality of political issues which affected their ability to assemble the best talent. Nevertheless, they surprised some by rebounding from two straight early loses to make it to the semifinal game. From Cuba’s perspective there’s so much more to the story than just the final score.
“The USA team is perhaps the best they have put together, my congratulations to the USA. Regarding the political incidents in the game, it is pitiful that politics and sports are mixed and there is a group of Cubans who, in my opinion, despite the resentment, have a business with the networks and exacerbate hatred and those things, I think, that demean those who act in that way.” Jose Raul-Santiago de Cuba
Could the Cuban players who defected have changed the outcome?
We will never know!!! But what we do know is over the years many players from CUBA have made it to MLB (Major League Baseball). Currently there are over twenty players on MLB rosters. During their days in CUBA many were stars of the national team and once arriving in the USA continued their prowess. Unfortunately, due to the agreement made by MLB and the BFC (Baseball Federation of Cuba) only two players from current MLB rosters were able to play for the home country. The rest or those who defected to the USA were prohibited from participating. Then again, there were a few who could have played but opted out due to their allegiance with those who currently despise the government. Of course players like Randy Arozarena who is a star for the Tampa Bay Rays instead chose to play for the country they claimed citizenship (Mexico) before making a MLB roster. One could only imagine if just a fraction of those deemed ineligible were allowed to participate the outcome could have been much different than the 14-2 shellacking they suffered. It’s this handicap that draws pride in the Cuban team for making it as far as they did.
[as a preamble this is written from a United States perspective who are a minority of overall visitors to CUBA.]
This trek was dedicated to my dear friend, Dr. Esteban Dominguez Morales who passed away earlier this year. Over the years we developed a great friendship. He explained how he joined the revolution as a young teenager. As he gained formal education; achieving two pHD's, including one from Russia, he became a leading voice in Cuban social issues and economics. His seminal work on race helped me immensely in better understanding the culture
My trek to Cuba (Coo-ba) just ended. I remind those who ask the big difference between a trek and a vacation; is work and sacrifice. Another critical element is my treks are based on a laser-focused efficient budget. Many of you who follow my articles already know how my passion for Cuba was developed after my first visit in 2015. The first year was simply more of a bucket-list adventure: explore the country first-hand. Upon returning that experience led me to do more research into the culture and the history. I discovered the book “Race in Cuba” and after reading it I had many questions. Ever since then I committed to doing solid research on racism in Cuba and the impact of Negro League baseball in Cuba. Based on my progress I have two more treks to complete my research and then I will be able to formally publish
Going to Cuba has fascination for many. As the Caribbean’s largest country at 11 million, like many countries there are contradictions. Currently a small but notable population is fleeing the country and seeking asylum status to whatever country that will accept them. The country is dealing with issues where people must make adjustments. It is not as bad as the 1990’s when the Soviet Union collapsed resulting in them not receiving the financial support they had come to expect. From my real-life interviews that was a brutal period where people were fighting for basic survival. The current situation is tough as shortages and other sacrifices are an everyday reality.
While the Biden administration has clawed back some of the draconian measures the Trump administration implemented, those traveling from the United States must be diligent in understanding approved regulations to visit the country. At the same time I notice some are willing to take the risk and travel as a tourist doing things such as visiting beaches, visiting government run businesses and enjoying the country. They do so at their own peril because while the Cuban government may turn the other way, returning back home may result in severe questioning or imposing financial penalties. Part of the basic requirement in visiting is you must have a bullet-proof itinerary (in your possession at all times with your passport and travel visa) to document your “business.”
I missed my 2021 trek as even though Covid was simmering down, the airlines had elevated ticket prices that my pockets could not handle. Luckily, 2022 showed greater promise as prices became more affordable. The biggest hitch was selecting a reliable airline because there are many that claim to accommodate Cuba. I was looking at United but at the last minute had to switch because they were having logistical issues in flying into Jose Marti International. Luckily American offered the right combination. LAX to Miami and then off to Havana.
I normally make my treks in November, before or after Thanksgiving so this time I needed to dedicate the entire month as we added going to Belize to witness the Garifuna Settlement celebration. Around August I had to move it into high gear and move into the final planning phase. This was critical because going to CUBA is very fluid or everchanging as was the case with money or the value of the U.S. Dollar as well as accommodations.
My itinerary was solid as I planned for meetings, interviews and other interactions. The focus of this trek was to visit Matanzas; San Severino Slave Castle and Palmarde Junco, which in 1874 became Cuba’s first baseball stadium. I am proud to report, even today it stands in its glory as games are still played there. Additionally, there was much to do in Havana as well as Camaguey and then on to Santiago. The notion of understanding racism goes back before the revolution which is why it was important for me to see the Moncada barracks as it became a pivotal moment in history. My initial goal was to travel using the updated train system but my host in Matanzas convinced me it was too perilous as schedules were unpredictable. After acquiescing I made my journey from Havana to Santiago via the Viazul. Below are highlights of my trek.
Assuming you meet one of the twelve categories to travel to Cuba, a tourist visa is basic documentation U.S. citizens will also need to travel. From my experience pricing will range from $25 to $100. Staff is generally positioned adjacent the airline you are flying to enter CUBA. The lower prices are generally available for non-US flights. Unlike past years there is no fear by having your passport stamped by Cuban immigration or suffering the rath once you return to the U.S. and being questioned, “what were you doing in Cuba?”
For those whining about inflation I would encourage them to visit Cuba. As mentioned there are severe shortages of the most basic commodities. The CUP (Cuban peso) is very fluid and fluctuates daily. You can exchange on the informal market but like most things – Buyer beware! In other words, you need to develop a reliable source, or the alternative is simply to exchange at Cadeca’s or banks. During my visit the rate was ranging $1 equal 110 pesos. My rate on the informal market was $1 to 150 pesos. This is a tremendous benefit assuming you are comfortable doing business with the local economy, but you must ditch any resemblance as a tourist.
You will notice national products (i.e., tabac [cigars], rum, coffee and other items) can only be had with an international card. That can spell trouble as the card is pegged almost dollar to dollar as many of the products are marked in that currency. One thing I did notice is a few shops at the airport accept CUPs, so that is another opportunity to stretch your buying power.
As you’re doing your research on Cuba you will discover lots of news on shortages. They are real and for most Cubans it remains a nagging headache to wait in endless lines to try and retrieve basic goods. The other shortage which was new during this trek was the power. Until you witness it, it is hard to phantom. The solution is exceptional organizing of your day as well as your resources in preserving power (mobile phones, computers, etc.)
Trekking is not for the week and feeble. For this trek based on my Epson smartwatch I pegged 96 miles of walking!!!!! The rest was cabs and motorcycles (rider). For this trip I had planned to ride the local buses, which are now 2 pesos, but logistics prevented that experience. I journeyed from Havana to Santiago and provinces in between via the Viazul bus system. Interestingly, locals are prevented from riding the Viazul and must travel on the national buses. The reason I was told was because the country is trying to ramp up tourism and needs every available seat to those visiting the country. Here is the bottom-line, the country of Cuba is wide and from Havana to Santiago is about 15 hours (except flying which is prohibited from my budget). YOU MUST PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE OUTSIDE OF CUBA (online) and in my case as mentioned I was planning to take the train from Matanzas to Camaguey so I had to do some quick thinking. I contacted my daughter in the US and gave her my Viazul credentials and she was able to secure the ticket and email it to me so I could travel. The cost was:
- Havana to Matanzas = $21
- Matanzas to Camaguey = $31
- Camaguey to Santiago = $21
- Santiago to Havana = $56
So for $115 I was able to literally go across-country. Of course some chose to fly or hire private taxis. That was not my reality as I opted for the more affordable option. As stressed, this type of travel is not for everyone but for me it is perfect. It does make stops along the way. You are able to go into towns you probably never would have the opportunity to go. THERE ARE NO RESTROOMS ON THE BUS. A smart traveler will always sneak some tissue into their luggage as the custom in Cuba when there are stops is to pay to use the restroom (10 pesos). Also, it is not uncommon for the bus to pull over in the rural terrain to allow those who simply can’t wait to relieve themselves.
I surely do not come to Cuba to lay on the internet but you do need that resource for communication. The system has greatly improved in Cuba. You now have several options which include getting a sim card, getting a phone, internet cards, etc. I selected internet card and to my surprise the prices have greatly decreased. In the past it was not uncommon to pay 1:1 or with US Dollars. As an example 5 hours would cost $5. Of course some access cards on the informal market. For me I prefer to go to the Ectesa office. Expect a wait should you use this option as there is usually a line to get into the office. I waited about three hours but it was worth it as to my surprise three 5 hour cards cost 375 pesos the equivalent of $2.50 based on my exchange rate. One important thing while the service has greatly improved part of your logistics planning is to map out available hotspots based on your travels.
Photos of the trek can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate link
CUBA Internet Card
I am preparing for my ’22 trek and updating various services I will need because things are very fluid in the country and changing more rapidly. One of the most important services is access to the internet. To access the internet in Cuba the two popular systems offered by the national communication company – ETECSA: You will find them all over the country and typically they work in populated areas. Also, in those areas you will find hotspots or places to connect (parks, stadiums, public places, etc.)
As mentioned some of you know CUBA is going through an inflationary period, which translates to their currency is being devalued or cost less to non-Cuban consumers. The primary currency is the CUP (pesos) and the current bank rate is 24:1, however on the blank market that price jumps 3, 4,5 times or more – but buyer beware!!!!
This is current information I received directly from Etecsa. As an example a 30 minute card is 12.50CUP or 50 cents.
Cuban National Players in MLB v2022
This year’s edition is late but once again we note professional baseball players who hail from Cuba and are now playing in Major League Baseball (MLB). The list is compiled from those making the 40 player roster of the thirty MLB teams. Like many professional sports in the United States the rosters have become more diversified representing players from all over the globe.
Cuba has a tremendous baseball legacy. It is the national sport. It became a key topic in my journey to explore the Negro League’s presence in a country where the teams were welcomed and a strong brotherhood was created. Before the U.S. imposed embargo players and many teams took great joy to make the trek to the Caribbean’s largest country. Even though key players have departed resulting in a sharp decline of their status in World Baseball Rankings, they still pose a threat to teams that take them lightly. In the last decade they were consistently in the top 5 and currently have jumped two spots to claim the 9th position.
A critical observation of my research is posing the question – will CUBA baseball go the way of the Negro Leagues? From my perspective the answer is no because while the talent has decimated during the last decade, baseball in Cuba is a national commodity whereas the Negro Leagues were part of the African-American culture making it much easier to transition into the broader society.
A couple of notes from this year’s edition
- The 2022 lineup totals 27 players, an increase of two.
- American league teams have the majority of players at 17, unchanged from last year.
- The National league has 10.
- Surprisingly 15 teams have ZERO players.
- Cuban National players account for approximately 2% of all players.
- MLB escalated investing in Latin America in the early ’60’s and it is not surprising that Dominican Republic leads the pack.
- Another important feature of this list is understanding Cuban baseball is still strong but over the years the top talent has been diluted as more players have defected or made it over to the U.S.A.
|TEAMS||2021||2022||Change 2022 v 2021|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0|
|Chicago White Sox||4||4||1|
|Kansas City Royals||1||0||0|
|Los Angeles Angels||1||0||1|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||1||1||1|
|New York Mets||0||0||0|
|New York Yankees||1||1||1|
|San Diego Padres||1||0||1|
|San Francisco Giants||0||0||0|
|St. Louis Cardinals||1||0||1|
|Tampa Bay Rays||2||2||0|
|Toronto Blue Jays||1||1||0|
The Last Out (Doc)
Last Seasons in Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba
The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball
Gonzalez Echevarria, Roberto
Major League Cuban (Doc)
Jailed for Smuggling Players
Whether you are a serious fan of Cuban baseball or the Negro Leagues you will find this documentary an outstanding piece to help you better understand the history. It came out in 2020 and I viewed it as part of my Amazon account.
Here is another good doc to give more perspective. The material is good but the authors appear somewhat bias towards to bitterness to the Castro regime. For me, of all the interviews and voices presented I did not count one from an Afro-Cuban perspective, but still good information to balance your thoughts. The doc is part of public broadcasting so you will need to match up your local channel and when it (if) will be shown.
Fred is a baseball historian who has studied and researched the game at length. His relationship to Cuba stemmed from understanding how the Negro Leagues operated during segregation. Further he has been able to visit many stadiums in Cuba while taking in various games. Currently his visits have escalated and allowed him to visit many landmarks as well as interview those in Cuba who understand the current dynamic as well as a historical appreciation of when the Negro Leagues were prominent and how the sport was a common denominator to bridge the communication gap.
My friend Esteban Dominguez Morales 1943-2022
Those of you who follow my writings, specifically my treks to Cuba have seen references to my dear friend Esteban Dominguez Morales. I know him as “The Professor.” Planning for my Cuba trek in November I just found out from his wife, Katia that he unexpectedly passed away while visiting family in Columbia.
The Professor left this world a better place and as I pen this article, I mourn his passing and praise God for allowing our lives to intersect.
Like many who have not been to Cuba, the country is known to have an intriguing appeal. Due to the common sense approach the Obama administration fostered about developing a better relationship with Cuba, I was able to make my first trek in 2015 Planning for that trip I stopped by Eso-Won books in Leimert Park to see if there were any new titles about Cuba. Tom pointed me to two books, and I purchased both. One of the books “Race and Culture” seemed interesting so I set my sights on reading it once I returned. After reading it I had many questions and reached out to the author. Lo and behold he responded and that was the beginning of the friendship with Esteban Dominquez Morales. Following that communication, I was determined to visit again and gain first-hand knowledge of some of the things we communicated about. Following Obama’s term as president I had to brush up on my entry requirements since Trump took office and created ridiculous antics making it more difficult for United States citizens to visit. Luckily, I was a published author and was able to boot-leg on my credentials so that I could enter the country and safely return without suffering any penalties. With the professor’s help I was able to set my focus to study and gain a better perspective on Racism in Cuba and the Negro League’s presence in Cuba. In creating my itinerary and scheduling time to meet various authors, activist, and other officials, including the Professor he suggested I stay at his apartment since he had a legitimate casa particulares. That was perfect.
Over the years the Professor and I spent countless hours in his office and his home talking about the culture, the politics and other issues which were important to me. On occasions, Katia would pop in and offer input Even though he was retired from teaching at Havana University, he agreed to take me to the campus as well as one of his meetings with the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC). The reverence other professors gave him once they knew he was on campus was incredible.
“The surprise death of Esteban Morales pains us. We will miss his intelligent, incisive and committed assessment of the problems of our time. My condolences to his family, friends and the Cuban intelligentsia, which he gave prestige to with his work”. Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez
Esteban Dominguez Morales was a very decent person, and I am so grateful of the time we spent together. I will cherish the memories and pray that Katia and his family recover and continue their journey in living a positive life. Thanks to them I have gained an invaluable perspective of the Cuban culture. In 2021 I was not able to make the trek as the remnants of Covid and international travel saw air travel triple if not quadruple in prices. Since then they have come down.
For this year’s trek we decided to stretch things out. In addition to flying to our initial destination which was BWI (Baltimore-Washington International airport) our mode of getting around was Amtrak. Of course getting to/from Canada we rented a car. Once we got back to the states we opted for public transportation via metro (District of Columbia and New York City) and resorted to a lot, and I mean a lot of walking – based on our smartwatches in seven days we trekked 94.3 miles walking. Oh yeah, one confession but only due to several emergencies where time was not on our side – we opted for Uber on three occasions. Trekking is not for the weak or feeble or those who enjoy the usual comforts of travel. On the other hand our style allows us to experience many things most miss. As usual once we got back into the District of Columbia we were joined by our foodie extraordinare, Renie Hale. As we moved to New York we were joined by my sister Angela.
New York City
District of Columbia
Highlights of the trek
We knew this trek would require more laser-focused planning. Our funds were limited as was our time but we were willing to move it from 5 days to 7 days. This allowed us to visit Canada, New York and some places we simply did not have time in previous treks. The highlights are goals of this trek was:
Experience the Amtrak/Acela
Go to the CITIFIELD Rotunda, home of the New York Mets
CitiField pays homage to Jackie Robinson and even though it is the home field for the New York Mets, the stadium resembles historic Ebbetts Field which is where the Dodgers played.
Visit the new Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City.
This venue just opened and luckily we timed our trek to be able to see the exterior. Luckily one of management staff saw us peering through the windows and came outside to tell us about the museum. It is easy to find and right off the “canal” street subway stop as the entrance is on Vartick Avenue.
Visit the Capitol and go to Statuary Hall to see the new statue of Dr. Bethune. This indeed was the historic highlight as it was recently installed.
This installation had been delayed for over a year due to the insurrectionist and Trump acolytes who damaged the Capitol after falling prey to Donald Trump’s hustle that the 2020 election was stolen. Anyway, there is a process to enter this sacred building. Your congressional rep must coordinate your visit and you will receive a letter (via email) granting entry. The statue of Dr. Bethune representing the state of Florida is magnificent and very historic as she replaces a confederate general (each state is allowed two statues).
TO SEE FULL CEREMONY CLICK HERE
Visit Metropolitan AME as they just recently started back to having full worship.
Built in 1838 this historic cathedral is one of our must-stops when in DC. Due to Covid they recently started in-service worship so we were blessed to be able to be in attendance.
Visit Brooklyn to see where Judith lived
Arriving in 1972 this is the spot she called home and it had been years since she last saw the property.
Visit the Goodman League at Barry Farms to see some playoff games.
The housing projects were removed four years ago but the spirit of the Goodman League remains. It is outdoor basketball at its finest and represents more than just a game played within the rectangular courts. The diversity of the community is on full display. Miles Rawls and his team bring a first-class operation for all who are bold enough to go “inside the gates” at the BF arena to take part in this cultural phenomenon.
PHOTOS these are some of the images captured – CLICK LINK
Our Foodie experience
As you can imagine burning 94 miles requires a lot of fuel so yes we did lots of eating and drinking. Some spots were our favs and of course part of trekking or globetrekking is experiencing new venues. Most are good and a few were just terrible so in fairness we attempt to communicate accuracy……..based on our perspective.
Rhode Island NE, District of Columbia
Rita’s was a great find by Renie. Even though they are franchised you will appreciate their consistency. We opted for their famous Gelati which is 1/2 Gelato & 1/2 shaved ice – refreshing and outstanding.
5933 Georgia Ave Washington, DC 20011
Oooh’s & Aaah’s specializes in soul food or down home southern – very tasty.
1213 U St. N.W. Washington, DC 20009
A DC institution and one of the best half-smokes to be found.
241 W 42nd Street New York, NY 10036
Known for tasty Q and amazing cocktails. Located in Times Square a great find by Angela.
6526 Holabird Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224
Jimmy’s is a Baltimore institution known for their great crab presentations.
Cheesecake Factory at the Live in Hanover
7002 Arundel Mills Circle Hanover, MD 21076
Located in the Live Casino complex, great selections at affordable prices.
K Coffee & Bagel – 7th Avenue & 34th Street – Times Square, NY
Located across the street from the Moxy, this is a great option versus the more fancy coffee shop located next door.
473 BERGEN STREET – Brooklyn, NY
Great options and muffins as big as your head. Plenty of variety at affordable prices.
328 Malcolm X Blvd New York, NY 10027
A Harlem institution, Sylvia’s has earned its reputation. Food is great and a nice variety of southern specialties.
41 Seaver Way – Flushing, NY 11368
We opted for the philly cheesesteak which was very tasty and topped it off with a Brooklyn lager.
50 Massachusetts Ave NE Union Station, L027, Washington, DC 20002
A great light lunch while waiting for the train.
485 7th Ave. (at 36th St.) New York, NY 10018
A bit pricey but great presentation. Now, the rolls are the best I’ve had in years.
Barry Farms Housing Project – Anacostia, District of Columbia
This is one of my favs for all of those hard-working folk who bring great food to those watching games at the Barry Farms arena. Slim only serves platters and you get bang for your buck and during this trek his homestyle mac and cheese complete with his country crust made for an unbelievable meal. What a bargin for $20 bucks.
1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560
This is a must-stop. I opted for the southern fried chicken, mac and cheese and greens.
Jab’s Ice Cream
A great change of pace. Shaved ice seemed a bit pricey but it was hot/muggy and this offering was very tasty while hitting the spot.
1454 Rue Peel, Montréal, Qc H3A 1T5
A very nice cafe in Montreal. Service was outstanding and fish and chips was tops as was the chilled wine. The cesar salad was very tasty as it came with bacon bits.
Their cafe is adequate but could use some creativity in their menu selections.
This is a historic venue but they are in desperate need of some find tuning. We opted for the pizza and chicken tenders and while tasty we were disappointed of the limited menu selections or everything being one dimensional of either being fried or baked in a pizza over.
Very tasty but a bit pricey.
Café Vasco da Gama
1472 Peel St, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1S8, Canada
A great cafe and coffee bar. I was able to grab some Lily espresso sets.
If you are a homeowner or about to be a homeowner THIS IS A MUST READ
The signs of “White Only” or “Negroes get your food by the back door” have long been removed. But, the vestiges of racism remain, even in 2022. It is a systemic construct that will not disappear, at least not in my lifetime. Many of us have learned to navigate the treacherous waters that are prevalent in our day to day lives. This article is a prime example and a great lesson for those who might think racism went away when President Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation or when Dr. King gave his “I have a dream speech.”
The phrase “getting the American Dream” is tossed around as an achievable aspiration. However, history and current reality remind us that preamble wasn’t necessarily meant for us; those who are African American.
In the mid-80’s several well known fortune 100 companies were gobbling up mortgage lenders to create a subsidiary business for their well-heeled clientele who might one day become mortgage customers. American Express was a key sponsor with the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. Once the games ended key staff were directed to apply for post-Olympic employment opportunities with sponsors such as American Express. At the time, I had no clue what a mortgage banker was. My background was marketing. American Express had a subsidiary called Shearson-Lehman and their mortgage banking division was taking off. I jumped at the opportunity. I quickly learned how subjective staff charged with processing and underwriting a loan were; simply based on their upbringing or their societal perspectives. Of course since then a lot has changed but people are people and it is hard to strip away their biases.
Fast-forward to the article, many still swear racism is over and everybody is treated equal. The article points to a very clear, if not painful lesson that many have to endure. Just when you think you may have “made it” it is examples like this which remind you the work must continue to go forward to break the veil of prejudice and racism.
Vin Scully – A Reflection
The “Great Scully” retired from the Dodgers in 2016. Die-hards like me knew at the time he was a bit ill, if not up in age. Selfishly we held out hoping he would physically be here forever or up to the end of our lives. He passed yesterday as the news came while we were watching the Dodgers v Giants game at Oracle Park. Coincidently, it was Oracle (at the time A.T.T.) where he called his last game in 2016.
Vin Scully was a genius. You can peruse the internet for all type of tidbits and facts. I’m 70 and in 1959 I believe I attended my first Dodger game at the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. I vaguely remember but I learned about Vin by listening to games with my grandmother. Over the years, I was guilty as charged as I took many transistor or portable radios to the games I attended, just to hear Scully. Today’s announcer’s have a lot to learn…..if they are serious about their craft and strive for excellence? Unlike today’s parody’s, he wasn’t “just” a cheerleader for the home team or some partisan hack – he called the game as he saw it. Specifically in baseball, he knew what fans wanted to hear and in listening to games there are critical elements that supersede normal chatter. With Scully you knew he was consistent in making sure you knew the inning, the count and the score. Incredible.
Scully at the Shell station
As my working career was winding down I went to work with a fortune 100 company that had a campus/office space in Calabasas. The year was 2013 or 2014 and it was either February of March. While grabbing lunch I decided to get some gas as well so I headed down to the Shell station on Las Virgenes just south of the 101. After pumping my gas I noticed a lad behind me who was wrapping up pumping his gas. Lo and behold, it was the “Great Scully.” We exchanged pleasantries and as bad as I wanted to ask him for a picture, I refrained because in my gut I knew he treasured his privacy. We briefly chatted about spring training and the prospects for the upcoming season. That brief encounter may appear nerdy or inconsequential to some but for me it was priceless and something I will never forget.
Today I wanted to pay my respect so I trekked down to the ravine and was pleased to see other fans doing to same. Also I hustled over to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and there was Vin’s start on the north side of Hollywood, JUST EAST OF 6678 Hollywood Blvd.
On August 5th, 2022 the Dodgers returned home to host the Padres who made noise earlier in the week as the trade-deadline ended and they grabbed some extra talent in their bid to catch the Dodgers or at a minimum make the playoffs. A sold-out crowd packed into the Ravine as the team honored Scully with pre-game festivities, capped by a spectacular fireworks show. As a fete to Vin, the Dodgers rolled past the Padres 8 – 1.
92nd MLB All-Star Game – Celebrating Jackie Robinson
The 92nd Major League Baseball All-Star game pulled out of Los Angeles this past Wednesday morning and is now headed to Seattle Washington for next year’s summer classic.
The game this year had several significant twist for Dodgers fans like us. For the first time in 42 years the game was back at Chavez Ravine. The number 42 also represented the coveted number worn by Jackie Robinson. Just as important the game was played on July 19th which happened to coincide with Mrs. Rachel Robinson’s 100th birthday.
For us it was a great experience. We participated in several days at the CapitalOne Ballpark Experience which took over the Los Angeles Convention Center and adjoining L.A. Live complex. We also attended the Home Run derby which was a great exhibition, although as a die-hard baseball fan I must admit some of the duels appeared tainted with manipulation………ummm.
We kicked off the final event by attending the All-Star game. The representation of fans at the game wearing their favorite team gear was just as impressive as the simmering heat. Here are some pics of our experience.
CapitalOne Ballpark Experience
As a person who appreciates the history of the Negro Leagues it was great to attend a panel themed “The Life & Legacy of Jackie Robinson.” To truly understand the impact you would need to familiarize yourself with his stint as a member of the Kansas City Monarchs.
The world remembers Jackie breaking the color barrier in 1947 but another key reason why owners were reluctant to integrate was the huge sums they were making from the popular Negro Leagues who used major league stadiums to play while they were on the road. They were making money hand-over fist, for basically doing nothing but opening the gates. Once they let Jackie in and the other great players followed, the Negro Leagues waned and the owners lost that source of income they had enjoyed for all of the years.” Bob Kendrick, Executive Director Negro League Baseball Museum.
As mentioned we were able to attend the popular Home Run Derby thanks to Jackie from MLB who gifted us with tickets.
We contemplated on going to the game as for month’s we pondered if the tickets would be out of reach for our budget?It was decided the event was too important to pass up so we made adjustments to make sure we could witness the game, as if it took 42 years for the game to land back at the Ravine, more than likely we would not be here physically the next time it was awarded to the Dodgers. Normally we are in Loge 130 but we opted for the right field pavilion for a different experience.
The game was important but the one issue for us was whether Mrs. Robinson would be in attendance? We have seen her numerous times at the Ravine as over the years she has consistently appeared. Even at 99, looking glamorous and regal she was present this past April 15th. Here is a special clip prepared by MLB “Celebrating Rachel”
CELEBRATING RACHEL – CLICK HERE
Understandingly she did not make it but Mookie Betts summoned all players to the home plate area and asked the 54,000+ fans to join him in wishing her a Happy Birthday.
Another highlight was having Denzel Washington, who is no stranger to Dodger Stadium give a poignant presentation on Jackie Robinson.
Finally, I haven’t been able to locate the clip but as soon as I do it will be posted. MLB’s Harold Reynold’s featured a special about the Legacy of Jackie Robinson. It featured Spike Lee, President Bill Clinton, Bo Jackson and Bud Selig. IT IS A MUST SEE.