Day 6: Victory, Playa del Este, and Farewells

We woke up early this morning, as we had to arrive at the field for 8:30 am for a very special and important game. Our competition was La Habana–the provincial all-star team containing the best players in the entire city. The team is also essentially the 11-12 year old academy team for the Havana Industriales. Following Cuban tradition, we started the game with a skills competition, something always done before all-star games. The competition included four categories: throws to second base by the catchers (for accuracy), throws from centerfield to home plate, running from home to first, and running around all the bases. Speedy Vermonter Cyrus Perkinson earned the only American victory in any of the competitions, but it was a solid win nonetheless. Perkinson picked up first place in the home to first base running challenge, with a blistering time of 3.29 seconds.

The game started with a unique experience. In order to create a fun, competitive, and balanced team, five Cuban players, and five American players switched sides. The kids had fun interacting with their new teammates and playing alongside them in the field. There were some incredibly talented Cuban ballplayers. The Havana team included the best catcher in the nation, Julio Cesar Perez, and the second best pitcher, Marcos Reyes. He was throwing scorching fastballs the entire team he pitched, and almost struck out the side. Coach Tom Simon played catch with him and said his hand was swollen after. He later asked him at lunch how fast he pitches, and Reyes let him know that he reaches 70 mph!

Head coach Jim Carter was pleased with the decision to mix the teams. He said it was a terrific way to end the week.

It will be interesting to watch these Cuban players in the future. Some of them had tremendous talent, and several could possible be Major League caliber in the future.

The game was a first for the Vermonters–a victory against one of the best teams around. The final score was 13-5, a solid victory for the American team (with a little help from the Cubans). Ozzie Kost had a solid play at third base and Nolan Simon contributed some sharp pitching and catching. Simon’s highlight of the game was striking out a top Cuban slugger in the third inning. Ollie Pudvar continued his hot streak at the plate, leading the way for the Americans by going five for his last six at-bats. Tate Agnew played several strong innings at first base, making key plays and snags. Eli Bostwick was also a top contributer, catching the blazing fast Cuban pitchers for the last four innings.

 

For those of you who were unaware (I forgot to mention this in earlier posts), one of our players, Carter Monks, was injured in the second game. He hurt his knee while stretching out to make a catch at first base. He is unable to play, but doing very well. The Cubans have been treating him very graciously, and had him throw out the first pitch today.

After out ballgame we headed off to lunch with the Habana all-stars. WE enjoyed a delicious meal with the team, and Coach Tom Simon received a one-of-a-kind gift from Yosvani Aragon, a great Cuban pitcher. He gave Simon the final jersey he had ever worn in a baseball game, and signed it. Wow, what a gift!

Our next stop–Playa del Este, for a brief but enjoyable dip in the ocean. Everyone enjoyed the refreshing and salty waters at the nicest beach in Havana. It was a great way to finish off the week.

Our bus speed off from the beach to bring us to our farewell dinner. We enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner. Jorge and Lorraine were there and provided us with certificates from the Marti Center. It was a great moment of reflection on this wonderful journey we have all experienced together. I cannot wait to share with you all the great photos and videos I have taken this week. While I have not posted any photos tonight, as soon as I arrive back in the United States I will provide you with the photos that accompany all these posts.

I am posting from the Havana Airport. Our flight will in half an hour, and while we all had a fantastic adventure, we are looking forward to heading home.

Goodbye from Havana for the final time!

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Author: Alexandre Silberman

Alexandre Silberman is a multimedia journalist and a senior at Burlington High School in Burlington, Vermont where he is the editor of his school newspaper. He currently writes for the Burlington Free Press, the state's largest daily newspaper. This past April, Alexandre travelled to Cuba to document the first youth baseball exchange with a U.S. team since the embargo. // Email: asilbermanvt@gmail.com // Follow him on Twitter: @alexsilbermanvt

6 thoughts on “Day 6: Victory, Playa del Este, and Farewells”

  1. Many thanks Alexandre! I’ve so enjoyed reading the blog and seeing the pictures. I can’t wait to see the rest 🙂 Great job. It looks like it was an amazing trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For those of us who are enjoying this great adventure vicariously and from afar, Alexandre has been a godsend! Please accept our thanks for your considerable efforts. This is far more that reporting, as your work immerses us in the culture, the enjoyment of the sport, and, most of all, the joy of this truly unique experience. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alexandre – thank you for documenting this wonderful journey and giving all of us back here in Burlington an enormous amount of detail and color about this special trip. It is clear from your posts that this has been the trip of a lifetime for our Burlington squad and that this is a special and exciting time in Cuba’s history. Vermont has a special relationship with Cuba, and this trip and blog has deepened that relationship and will contribute to further engagement in the future. Thank you.

    – Miro Weinberger, Mayor of Burlington

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was just referred to this blog by coach Skip Carter and it was well worth it! Nice job documenting an amazing event. As a fan of baseball as played in Cuba and Vermont, it was great to see something like this come to pass. Kudos to all who made it happen, and to Alexandre for the excellent blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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