Monday, December 27, 2010

Cuba's first recorded baseball game was played in 1874

Dec. 27: On this day in 1874, the first recorded organized baseball game in Cuba was played.

Held at Palmar de Junco (shown in this 1901 image) in Pueblo Nuevo, Matanzas, the game pitted Matanzas against Habana, with Habana winning 51-9.

Habana's team featured Cuban baseball pioneers Emilo Sabourin and Esteban Bellan, the first Cuban to play in the major leagues when he donned the uniform of the Troy Haymakers of the National Association in 1871.

According to Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria's book The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball, the game was called after seven innings because of darkness. Bellan homered twice and Sabourin scored eight runs.

The game was played no more than a decade after the game was introduced to the island, although the details of how baseball was brought to Cuba vary.

Some accounts credit Nemesio Guillot, an upper class youth educated in America, with bringing baseball when he returned to Cuba in 1864. Other accounts credit sailors from an American naval ship anchored at the port of Matanzas with demonstrating the game to locals in 1866.

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