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President Obama on his way to Cuba trying to end the tension between the two countries. His goal is to try and push the government to give more freedom to its people and open new economic channels for American businesses. In addition, the Tampa Bay Rays will play the Cuban national team
Professional baseball used to flourish in Cuba with many Negro league players becoming stars in the league. 6 years before Castro banned professional sports, the Sugar Kings ( Cincinnati Reds minor league team) was based out of Cuba. Their success spurred talk of a professional team but when Castro nationalized all US owned businesses there hope was quickly diminished.
The focus of talent went to Dominican Republic shortly after. Since 1959, 640 Dominicans have played in the majors. In addition, every US team has a training academy on the island and the baseball industry had contribute to the country's economy.
Martin Dihigo was banned from playing in the majors because of his skin color . His best season came in 1938 when he pitched for a 18-2 record with a 0.90 ERA and hitting .387. He is the only player to be inducted into Baseballs Hall of Fame in the US, Cuba, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
In 2014, the Cuban government approved six categories of salary hikes that will pay baseball players between $18 and $60 a month, plus bonuses. In the US, 10 Cuban defectors earned at least $5 million each last season. This is why Yasiel Puig can afford a helicopter while players in Cuba ride bikes to games.
If President Obama wants to find out what the Cubans think he can stop by a few restaurants where dozens of fans gather for passionate and educated discussions about baseball. In the past, Cuban baseball have dominated the debates. But now with Cubans playing in the US, the major leagues may become apart of the discussions as well.
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