Cuba’s all-time star lineup
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, USA TODAY Sports brought together All-Latino baseball teams from across Latin America.
The tradition of professional baseball in Cuba dates back to 1878, two years after the founding of the National League.
For decades, Havana hosted winter baseball, Black League teams, and MLB spring practice games – and Havana was home to two minor league teams.
But Cuba’s winter league withdrew in 1961 into the continuation of the communist revolution of Fidel Castro, isolating most of the island’s talent for decades until players began to defect in droves in the 1990s.
Thus, to constitute the baseball formation of all time in Cuba, one must consider players from very different eras and circumstances: Cubans in major tournaments, stars of the winter ball, players of the team. Cuban national and defectors.
Here are the players who made the cut:
Seeker: Yasmani Grandal, 2012-present
First base: Tony PÃ©rez, 1964-86 (Hall of Fame)
Second base: Tony Taylor, 1958-76
Third base: Omar Linares, 1985-2002 (performed in Cuba)
Shortstop: Bert Campaneris, 1964-83
External field: Tony Oliva, 1962-76
External field: CristÃ³bal Toriente, 1920-32 (Hall of Fame, played in the black leagues)
External field: Oreste “Minnie” MiÃ±oso, 1946-64, 1976, 1980
Designated Hitter: Rafael Palmeiro, 1986-2005
Utility: MartÃn Dihigo, 1923-45 (Hall of Fame, played in the black leagues)
Starting pitcher: Luis Tiant, 1964-82
Starting pitcher: Adolfo Luque, 1914-35
Starting pitcher: Mike Cuellar, 1959-77
Closer: Aroldis Chapman, 2010-present
Cesar Brioso is the author of “Havana Hardball” and “Last Seasons in Havana”.