"Through this and other publications, Peter Bjarkman is doing for Cuban baseball what Ry Cooder has done for Cuban music, helping us appreciate the complexity, creativity, and emotions of a people whose culture and politics have long been intertwined with those of the United States but who have often been made invisible by social attitudes or political barriers." — Joseph Arbena reviewing "A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006" in "Arête: The Journal of Sports Literature"
"The definitive work on Cuban baseball." — "Library Journal" (2007)
Bjarkman's seminal Cuban baseball history was the top-selling McFarland baseball title (among 250-plus titles in print) for February 2007 and March 2007. The volume also ranked second on the McFarland list for April 2007 and fourth for January 2007. Reviewers have been generally enthusiastic in their positive evaluations.
"Bjarkman delivers the definitive work on Cuban baseball. He looks at four Cuban legends—Martin Dihigo, Adolfo Luque, Orestes "Minnie" Minoso, and Conrado Marrero—before covering Cuba's baseball teams during both the prerevolutionary and Castro eras. He discusses Havana's place as the 'amateur baseball capital of the world' and also explores myths surrounding Castro as a ballplayer, as well as such figures as Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez. With useful appendices and statistics. For all baseball collections."—Review from "Library Journal" (Spring Baseball Lineup) feature (February 1, 2007)
"This concern with positioning is vital when dealing with histories and thus it is important that one understands the position from which the historian approaches his or her subject and what kind of ideological lenses are being used to examine that subject. Bjarkman's passion for Cuban baseball is clearly evident throughout the entire work. This is a labour of love. That passion comes through in the amount of work necessary to produce this coffee-table-sized tome. Really this is two books corralled into one cover. The one is a compilation of statistics covering the history of the sport on the island. The other is a social history comprised of a set of biographies of Cuba's most important players, on and off the diamond. That said, what Bjarkman has accomplished is masterful. Fans of the Latin American game, baseball historians, and Cubaphiles will all find this an essential addition to their libraries and will consult it often." — Review by Thomas Carter in "The International Journal of the History of Sport" (Summer 2008)
Major League Baseball's 2006 World Baseball Classic shocked an international audience when an amateur team from Cuba met Japan in San Diego for the sport's first true world championship. But those who had paid attention to international tournaments were hardly surprised by Cuba's showing against all-star teams of American, Puerto Rican, Dominican and Venezuelan professionals. Cuban national teams have now reached the finals of 38 consecutive major world tournaments, won better than 90 percent of their international contests since 1939, repeatedly beaten U.S. all-stars at the avowed American national game, and reigned for more than half a century as undisputed champions of global baseball. In this groundbreaking book, expert Peter C. Bjarkman follows the full arc of Cuban baseball history, including close coverage of the nearly five decades since the Sugar Kings' ejection from the International League. Dispelling the mystery and disinformation that surround Cuba, its leader, and its teams, early and late, Bjarkman gives us the first truly balanced history of baseball on the Caribbean island.
The first detailed history of Cuban baseball that gives equal treatments to both the post-revolution Cuban (Amateur) League (1962-2006) and the pre-revolution professional Cuban (Winter) League (1878-1961). Detailed narrative history, abundant statistics, year-by-year summaries of all Cuban League seasons through 2006. Discussions of recent defections of Cuban players to the majors, Cuba's role in baseball detente, and the special features that make current Cuban League play the most unique (and perhaps the best) baseball spectacle found anywhere.
INSIDE SNEAK PREVIEW
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I—THE CUBAN LEGENDS
1: Martin Dihigo—Baseball's Least-Known Hall of Famer
2: Adolfo Luque—The Lost Pride of Havana
3: Orestes Miñoso—The Cuban Comet
4: The Baseball Half-Century of Conrado Marrero
PART II—THE CUBAN LEAGUES
5: Myths and Legends of the Cuban Professional League (1878-1961)
6: Cuban Blackball's Doubleheaders on the Dark Side of the Moon
7: Havana as Amateur Baseball Capital of the World
8: Cuba's Revolutionary Baseball (1962-2005)
PART III—THE CUBAN LEGACY
9: The Myth of Fidel Castro, Barbudos Ballplayer
10: Tarzan, Minnie, Zorro, and El Duque—The Saga of Cubans in the Major Leagues
11: The World's Best Unknown Ballplayers
12: Playing with the Enemy: Defections, The Orioles Series, and Cuban Baseball Detente
APPENDICES AND STATISTICAL RECORDS
Appendix I: Cuban Baseball Chronology (1864-2006)
Appendix II: The Cuban Negro Leagues Register
Appendix III: Cuban Major League Register
Appendix IV: Cuban Baseball Statistical Records