Cuban League

Cuban League

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Cuban League

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The Cuban League was one of the earliest and longest lasting professional baseball leagues outside of the United States, operating in Cuba from 1878 to 1961. The schedule usually operated during the winter months, so the league was sometimes known as the "Cuban Winter League." It was always a small league, generally 3 to 5 teams, and was centered in Havana, though it sometimes included teams from outlying cities such as Matanzas or Santa Clara. The league became racially integrated in 1900, and during the first half of the 20th century the Cuban League was a premier venue for black and white players to meet. Many great black Northern American players competed in Cuba alongside native black and white Cuban stars such as José Méndez, Cristóbal Torriente, Adolfo Luque, and Martín Dihigo. After 1947, the Cuban League entered into an agreement with Major League Baseball and was used for player development. Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, however, tensions rose with the new Communist government, and in March 1961 the government decreed the abolition of professional baseball.

Early history: 1878–1899

The first game in what became known as the Cuban League took place in Havana on December 29, 1878. Esteban Bellán, the first Latin American to play professionally in the United States, was captain (playing manager) of Habana while the opposing Almendares was captained by Carlos Zaldo. (Almendares was a suburb just outside of old Havana.) Habana won the...
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