The game of baseball within Cuba has had a lasting impact on both the major leagues as well as the island’s own infrastructure.
Introduced initially in the 1860s by scholars returning home after studying abroad in the United States, baseball would eventually become a product that would attract outsiders into the island while also strengthening the unity of the Cuban people.
Through the 1960s revolutionary leader and dictator Fidel Castro would use baseball to promote Cuban nationalism and push his regime revolutionary agenda. The political pressure on baseball would prompt the increase in defections by players in order to play within the major leagues.
Today, Major League Baseball has been fortunate enough to have hosted some of the greatest Cuban ball players to play the game. From Hall of Famer Tony Perez, who left a job in a Havana sugar cane factory to sign a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds in 1960, to the brilliant but tragic career of Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, through today’s game that features enthusiastic ball players like the Gurriel brothers, Aroldis Chapman and José Abreu, to name a few, each has played a major role in the development of baseball at its highest level.
Since the day Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was born, baseball was everywhere.
Son to Cuban baseball legend Lourdes Gourriel and brother to Houston Astros first baseman Yulieski Gurriel it was no question Lourdes was destined for the big leagues. Making his professional debut as a 16-year-old in the Cuban National Series, he would later make the life changing decision of defecting from Cuba with Yuli in February 2016. Later that year, considered one of the top international prospects, Gurriel Jr. signed with the Toronto BlueJays.
Today, he is a mainstay in a young and dangerous Toronto lineup. The future remains bright for both Lourdes and the already solidified Cuban presence in Major League Baseball.