HAVANA TIMES — Four glories of baseball, the celebrated former shortstop of the Yankees Derek Jeter, manager Joe Torre and Cubans Luis Tiant and Jose Cardenal, will be special guests of Major League Baseball (MLB) at the exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the national team of Cuba, on March 22 at the Latinoamericano stadium in Havana.
MLB commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. made the announcement Friday, adding that during their stay in Cuba the guests will attend various side activities, such as baseball clinics for children, said a statement.
Torre, chief executive of MLB, returns to Cuba after participating in the goodwill tour organized by Major League Baseball and the players union last December, with the assistance of several Cuban players including Jose Dariel Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Alexei Ramirez and Bryan Pena.
Tiant has returned to Cuba before on several occasions and one of his trips was the subject of a documentary “The Lost Son of Havana”, produced by ESPN in 2009.
With Obama in the Latin American Stadium
The game between Tampa and Cuba team is set for March 22, at 1:30 p.m. and coincides with the presence of President Obama to the island. The White House has confirmed that Obama will attend the game at the Latinoamericano Stadium, the Mecca of Cuban baseball.
The Rays trip represents the first visit to Cuba by a Major League franchise since the Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition game against the Cuban team on March 28, 1999.
Jeter was summoned to 14 All-Star Games and won five World Series titles during his 20-year career with the Yankees. The shortstop was captain of the team from 2003 until his retirement after the 2014 campaign. “Mr. November” remains the all-time leader in hits, runs scored and total bases achieved in the postseason.
Tiant, 75, was selected to three All-Star teams and finished with 20 wins or more in four of his 19 seasons as a major league pitcher, mainly for the Red Sox (1971-1978) and the Cleveland Indians (1964-1969). He led the American League in ERA twice (1.60 in 1968 and 1.91 in 1972) and played a crucial role on the Boston team that won the title in 1975. In three starts in the World Series that year he had a 2-0 record. Tiant is considered by many as the best Cuban pitcher ever in the major leagues.
Cardenal, 72, played as an outfielder in the majors for 18 years, from 1963-1980 with several teams. In his five years with the Chicago Cubs from 1972 to 1976 he compiled batting averages between .291 and .317. Cardenal was a teammate Torre with St. Louis for a couple years, his pupil with the New York Mets and his first base coach with the Yankees, where he was part of the teams that won the World Series in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
ESPN and ESPN Sports will provide live coverage of the exhibition game, which will be broadcast at 1:30 pm (ET). In addition, there will be staff from the ESPN Sports Center program in Havana on March 21 and 22.