NOTE: This post has been updated to include the photos I was previously unable to upload.
The National Theatre, an incredible piece of architecture.
Vermont Coach Jim Carter writes today’s lineup in Havana’s central park. The capitol building is visible in the background.
Historic architecture in Central Park, Havana.
The National Capitol Building, while our tour guide claimed was two feet taller than ours in Washington, D.C. The building is currently under renovation.
The team gathers around at esquina caliente or the “hot corner” in Havana’s Central Park to observe locals argue about baseball.
Vermont Coach Tom Simon chats with locals about baseball at the Hot Corner in Havana’s Central Park.
Classic cars in the Capitol district of Havana.
A sign in a outfield of Playa Stadium, where the Vermonters play their games against Cuban teams.
The coach of Marianao, the Cuban team the Vermonters played.
A Cuban ballplayer on Marianao makes a catch at first base.
A pitcher for the Cuban team Marianao warms up in the bullpen prior to the game against Vermont.
Team Vermont parent Dave Kost (far right) poses with new friends in the stands at Playa Stadium.
The Cuban flag is presented during pregame ceremonies.
Vermont Coach Jim Carter alongside player August Rinehart during the playing of the National Anthem.
Vermont Player William Gumbrell holds the U.S. flag during the playing of the National Anthem.
Cuban umpires stand to respect the playing of the U.S. National Anthem.
Vermont players during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem.
Vermont players during the playing of the U.S. National Anthem.
A Marianao player up to bat in the game against team Vermont.
Vermont player Andrew Goodrich makes a play at shortstop.
Nolan Simon fires a pitch in the Vermonters’ game against Marianao.
Cuban baseball star stands next to Vermont player Nolan Simon after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Vermont player Nolan Simon stares in at the batter.
Vermont coach Tom Simon shakes hands with Marianao coach Leonis Acosta before the game.
A Marianao player takes a lead during their game against Vermont.
A Vermonter and a Cuban side-by-side at third base.
A Cuban umpire looks in on the action.
Vermonter August Rinehart throws home from right field during the game against Marianao.
A player with a jersey sporting the last name, O’Reilly, not your typical Cuban name!
The crowd at Playa Stadium to watch a team from the United States play Marianao.
Vermont player Ollie Pudvar (#37) heads for second base.
Ollie Pudvar of team Vermont looks in on the action while at first base.
A Vermonter makes contact against a Marianao pitcher.
The Vermont team poses with Cuban baseball great Yosvani Aragon.
Vermont player Tate Agnew prepares to make a play at first base.
Both teams pose for a photo following the game
From left to right: Tate Agnew and Cyrus Perkinson, Vermont players, with a player from the Cuban team Marianao.
Vermonter Nolan Simon with a Cuban players after exchanging jerseys.
From left to right: August Rinehart, Ozzie Kost, and a Cuban player during the postgame dinner.
Ollie Pudvar (center) and Tate Agnew (far right) with a Cuban player during the post-game dinner.
Tom Simon (second from left) and Cuban baseball great Yosvani Aragon (far right), pose for a photo with members of the local baseball community. Aragon was a pitcher for Gallos de Sancti Spiritus between 1997 and 2007 and one of the best in Cuban history.
From left to right: Vermont coach Tom Simon, Kevin Herrington of CAFS, and Cuban baseball great Yosvani Aragon.
Vermont coach Tom Simon (second from left) with the coaching staff of the Cuban team Marianao.
Vermonter Andrew Goodrich (left), with a Cuban player after exchanging jerseys.
Eli Bostwick (left) with a Cuban player after exchanging jerseys.
A gift from Vermont.
Vermont coach Jim Carter with Jesus Gutierrez of the Cuban Baseball Federation.
A row of colorful classic cars line the street in the Capital District of Havana.
Coach Tom Simon poses with a statue honoring a fan who attended every game for many years at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
Vermonters Ozzie and Dave Kost pose for a photo inside the Havana Industriales dugout at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
Coach Tom Simon inside the Havana Industriales dugout.
The team poses for a photo in the outfield of the Estadio Latinoamericano, home of the Havana Industriales and the Cuban National Team. The stadium, which seats 55,000, is the largest in the country, and was home to the baseball game which President Barack Obama attended.
The author of this blog poses for a photo in the outfield of the Estadio Latinoamericano, home of the Havana Industriales and the Cuban National Team. The stadium, which seats 55,000, is the largest in the country, and was home to the baseball game which President Barack Obama attended.
The scoreboard at the Estadio Latinoamericano, home of the Havana Industriales and the Cuban National Team. The stadium, which seats 55,000, is the largest in the country, and was home to the baseball game which President Barack Obama attended between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team.
The players pose for a photo with a statue honoring a dedicated fan at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
A note painted on a seat declaring a fan’s love for the Havana Industriales (blue heart in English).
Carter Monks alongside his grandfather Jim Carter at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
Ollie Pudvar, alongside his father Tim at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
The author of the blog sitting in the same spot where President Obama was for the historic game between the Cuban National Team and the Tampa Bay Rays in March.
A drawing of Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
A painting of Cuban leader Fidel Castro playing baseball at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
A sign for the stadium for visited as a surprise.
A billboard outside the Estadio Latinoamericano reading: “The triumph will be the sum of the efforts of all” when translated into English.
A sign for the Havana Industriales at the Estadio Latinoamericano.
After another unique Cuban breakfast, our bus drove off from the Hotel Bella Habana. We thought we were going to see the Museum of the Revolution, but we were in for a surprise. Our guide and translator, Lester, had arranged for us to visit the Estadio Latinoamericano, the stadium where the Orioles and the Rays played the Cuban National Team. It is the largest and nicest stadium in the entire country, and home to the Havana Industriales during the winter. The stadium had been extensively visited for President Obama’s visit last month. We saw the spot where Obama sat during the historic game, and even had the opportunity to walk onto the playing field. It was a great surprise and an incredible experience!
Our bus picked us up at the stadium and brought us to another exciting place–the capital district. We saw the national capital building and the national theatre, all incredible pieces of architecture. Twenty percent of cars in Cuba are classic American cars, yet in this neighborhood, it was close to 100. They were parked all over the place, and every single car driving by was a shiny, colorful classic. The main reason behind our stop was to visit “La Esquina Caliente” or the Hot Corner. This is an area in the central park where men gather to talk and argue about baseball. The people in the park were not too talkative with us at first, but that all changed very quickly once we started to give them baseball cards. Coach Tom Simon had a lot of fun chatting with them about local Cuban teams.
Our next stop was Playa stadium, where we faced our toughest test yet on the baseball diamond. The team we played was Marianao, and they could hit, pitch, and play some excellent baseball. The final score was 15-5, but a fun game nonetheless. We had another visit from a Cuban baseball star. This time it was Yosvani Aragon, a pitcher for the Gallos de Sancti, who played between 1997 and 2007. He is considered one of the greatest pitchers in Cuban baseball history. Centerfielder Ollie Pudvar lead Team Vermont on both offense and defense. Pudvar caught a fly ball and threw a runner out a home for a double play in the 6th inning, and made a highlight-reel diving catch in center. He reached base four times, collecting three solid hits and a base on balls. Ozzie Kost was also a key part of the American’s defense, making a stellar play at third base.
Tate Agnew contributed two solid innings of pitching, and was relieved by Cyrus Perkinson, who closed out the game on the mound for Vermont. Agnew picked up a handful of strikeouts against some of the best sluggers in the region.
Today’s game maybe have been a challenge, but according to Vermont Coach Jim Carter, it was a victory for friendship and the sport of baseball
“The whole experience for everyone involved is just incredible,” Carter said.
Today’s game may have been a high scoring and challenging affair, and as many of you know, the Vermonters are slated to take on the provincial all-star team tomorrow. The coaching staff has decided to mix the teams to ensure a fun and competitive experience. Five Cuban players and five Americans will join the opposing team. It will be a great experience for the kids to play together.
After another day in the books, our trip will be coming to a close before we know it. I can tell you all that it has been the experience of a lifetime, something I know everyday when I see the faces of the kids on the baseball diamond.
Tomorrow we will play our final game at 10:30 AM and then head to experience the beach for the first time. This will be followed by a final dinner.
I would like to thank all my readers for taking the time to take in my writing and experiences in Cuba. My blog has surpassed 16,000 hits! Please continue to share my blog and help spread the word!