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The Pride of Havana: Baseball in Cuba

Dr. Harvey Frommer on Sports

Sports Book Review

The Pride of Havana 

By Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria

1/20/2000

 

Oxford University Press, $35.00, 464 pgs.

Cuba today is in the news in good ways, in controversial ways and in interesting ways. Tony Perez is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a little boy is front-page news caught in the tug of war between the folks in Cuba and others in the United States.

And there is "The Pride of Havana" a labor of love and a work of scholarship bringing forth a highly readable and most enlightening view of the history of Cuban baseball. Echevarria, a Cuban and former semi-pro catcher, is a Sterling professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Yale University. He brings all of this background to bear in his chronicle of baseball in Cuba from the 1860s to today. 

Photographs, maps, an extensive bibliography (one of my books is included) added to the wealth of content that makes "The Pride of Havana" perhaps the most authoritative and comprehensive work on this subject.

The book debunks the myth of Castro as a baseball player, shows how baseball survived the revolution, and analyzes the crucial link between American Negro League baseball and the game in Cuba.

Names that are familiar to most baseball fans get the up-close and sometimes personal treatment: Martin Dihigo, Jose Cardenal, Sandy Amoros, Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Tony Oliva, "Campy" Campaneris, Luis Tiant, Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez, Orestes "Minnie" Minoso, Pedro Ramos, Camilo Pascual, Ray Ordonez, Livian Hernandez, Rolando Arrojo ... there are enough great players discussed in this book to form a formidable Cuban all-time, All-Star team.

The flawed aspects of this otherwise excellent work include the author intruding with "I" too many times, and a too-scholarly approach to certain themes that makes the book read at times like a Ph.D. dissertation badly in need of editing.

But in the overall thrust of the book, these are minor problems and can be overlooked. "The Pride of Havana" is a book to read and to use for reference. It is also a work that will become a permanent part of my personal sports book collection - and not that many make my personal bookshelf.

BOOKENDS: For those who like statistics, two books from St. Martin's Press also belong on your shelf. They are "The Sports Encyclopedia Pro Football" ($19.99, 633 pages) and "The Sports Encyclopedia Baseball 1999" ($19.99, 744 pages). Highly organized and priced right - both books are nifty reference works.

"Total Browns" (Total Sports Publishers, $12.95) is a trade paperback providing the complete history of this legendary NFL franchise. Long on stats, the book is billed as "The Official Encyclopedia of the Cleveland Browns."

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
 

Other Frommer sports related articles can be found at:   

Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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