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.

CONNECTIONS: Dominican Republic | Venezuela | Porto Rico | Mexico | Panama | Rest of Latin America

Here are the players who made the cut:

Seeker: Yasmani Grandal, 2012-present

First base: Tony Pérez, 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

Tony Oliva had a career .304 batting average in 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins.

External field: Cristóbal Toriente, 1920-32 (Hall of Fame, played in the black leagues)

External field: Oreste “Minnie” Miñoso, 1946-64, 1976, 1980

Designated Hitter: Rafael Palmeiro, 1986-2005

Rafael Palmeiro appeared to be heading into the Hall of Fame before testing positive for DCs in 2005.

Utility: Martín Dihigo, 1923-45 (Hall of Fame, played in the black leagues)

Starting pitcher: Luis Tiant, 1964-82

Luis Tiant has won 229 games with a 3.30 ERA in his 19-year major league career.

Starting pitcher: Adolfo Luque, 1914-35

Adolfo Luque compiled a 194-179 record with a 3.24 ERA in 20 MLB seasons.

Starting pitcher: Mike Cuellar, 1959-77

Closer: Aroldis Chapman, 2010-present

Closest to the New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman, who defected from Cuba in 2009, has 303 big-league saves.

Cesar Brioso is the author of “Havana Hardball” and “Last Seasons in Havana”.


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