instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Fidel Castro & Baseball: The Untold Story

"There has never been a case in which a head of state has been involved so prominently and for such a long period in a nation's favored sport as Fidel Castro has been with baseball in Cuba." — Roberto González Echevarría, The Pride of Havana


Few political figures of the modern age have been so vilified as Fidel Castro, and both the vilification and worship generated by the Cuban leader have combined to distort the true image. The baseball myths attached to Fidel have loomed every bit as large as the skewed notions that he was a hidden communist before rising to power, or that once in control of the island's destiny he betrayed the revolution he had initially set out to make. Castro was never a major league pitching prospect, nor did he destroy the Cuban national pastime in 1962.


In Fidel Castro and Baseball: The Untold Story, Peter Bjarkman dispels numerous myths about the Cuban leader and his association with baseball. In this groundbreaking study, Bjarkman establishes how Fidel constructed rather than dismantled Cuba's true baseball Golden Age—one that followed rather than preceded the 1959 revolution. The author also demonstrates that Fidel was not at all unique in "politicizing" baseball as often maintained, since the island sport traces its roots to the nineteenth-century revolution. Fidel's avowed devotion to a non-materialist society would ultimately sow the seeds of collapse for the baseball empire he built over more than a half-century, just as the same obsession would finally dismantle the larger social revolution he had painstakingly authored.


A fascinating look at a controversial figure and his impact on a major sport, this volume reveals many intriguing insights about Castro and how his love of the game was tied to the country's identity. Fidel Castro and Baseball will appeal to fans of the sport as well as to those interested in Cuba's enduring association with baseball.


Chapter 1 – "History Will Absolve Me"
Chapter 2 - Baseball's Most Outrageous Myth
Chapter 3 - The Infamous "Barbudos" Game
Chapter 4 - Sugar Barons and Sugar Kings and the Death of Cuba's Professional Baseball
Chapter 5 - The Grand Socialist Baseball Experiment
Chapter 6 - The Other Big Rad Machine and Cuba's Dominance in International Baseball
Chapter 7 - The Fictional Personas of Fidel Castro
Chapter 8 - The Cuban Baseball Defectors Phenomenon
Chapter 9 - The Ultimate Collapse of Cuban Baseball
Appendix I: A Fidel Castro Capsule Biography and Chronology
Appendix II: Fidel Castro Annotated Bibliography
Chapter Notes
Sources and Further Readings
The Author


English Language Articles


"Fidel Castro and Baseball" on-line at THE SABR BIOGRAPHY PROJECT (


"Fidel Castro and Baseball" in: Cuban Baseball Legends: Baseball's Alternative Universe (Edited by Peter C. Bjarkman and Bill Nowlin). Phoenix: The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR Digital Library), 2016, 30-47.


"The Myth of Fidel Castro, Barbudos Ballplayer" (Chapter 9) in: Peter C. Bjarkman, A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company Publishers, 2007, 2014, pp. 299-314.


"Fidel on the Mound: Baseball Myth and History in Castro's Cuba" in: Elysian Fields Quarterly 16:3 (Summer 1999), 31-41.

"Fidel Castro's Pitching Career" in: International Baseball Rundown 9:2 (March-April 2000), 8-9.


"Baseball and Fidel Castro" in: The National Pastime: A Review of Baseball History 18 (1998), 64-68. The Society for American Baseball Research.


"Fidel Castro and Baseball" on-line at (November 26, 2016)


Spanish Language Articles


"Fidel Castro y El Béisbol" in: Leyendas del Béisbol Cubano: El Universo Alternativo del Béisbol (Edited by Peter C. Bjarkman and Bill Nowlin, translations by Reynaldo Cruz). Phoenix: The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR Digital Library), 2016, 31-49.


"Fidel Castro y el béisbol" in: Universo Béisbol 7:74 (Diciembre 2016), 32-43. (Translation by Reynaldo Cruz)


"Fidel Castro y el béisbol" (Translation by Reynaldo Cruz) on-line at (November 26, 2016)