Cuba has been a country that has undergone a lot of development and pullbacks over the past decades. Putting into consideration the exposure that they have heard with the world superpowers and the knowledge that they acquired from the interaction. Among some of the significant areas, altered were the sports and religious sectors. However, in every developing or a developed country or state, there has to be some pullback. In some segments of the game, especially the eighteenth and the nineteenth century, there were areas that racism was present. This arose because white supremacists felt that Brazil was a superpower in South America since the Spanish and Americans had settled in the country. Not forgetting the fact about the music, whereby the whites danced the music and replaced the old African dance so that they could dance in their parties. The struggle of religion was evident. Catholicism was dominant though had some competitors since it struggled to compete with the powerful and elaborate native religion and the religious order. These points will elaborate on some of the things that will show the main factors under each of the factors, which are religion, sports, and racism.

Sports is a dominant theme in this week’s readings. The history of baseball in Cuba dates back to the nineteenth century. It was introduced by the crew of an American ship, which was down for repairs. The game was played in Cuba way before.  However, its rules were first set by the members of the crew. The baseball had most of the players being black the reason being that most of the Matanzas’s residents were black. Since most of the students who went to study in America brought the game after graduating, the game became more predominant. The game was in Matanzas was considered to be maturing during 1870 which was the period when true clubs were formed.

Racism is a theme that has also been featured in this week’s material. The whites who participated in the game were reluctant to interact with black as they did not want to come into contact with them. This led to the establishment of American clubs that forbade blacks. Besides, the white firms would apply and get contracts regardless of the African firms. In every town, there were the American consuls.

Christianity in Cuba had some shaky foundations. During the eighteenth century, the catholic religion that had the basis of Spanish was trying to fight with the native religion. To verify this, the catholic had built cathedrals in Mexico and Peru to try counter-attack the native religion. However, these efforts did not bear many fruits since the native religion was so strong and had deep firm foundations in the country.


“From la bomba to beisbol: sport and the Americanisation of Puerto Rico, 1898–1950 Roberta J. Park”

In 1898 when American troops arrived in Puerto Rico the idea of sport was mostly about hunting or fishing. Survival type sports were a key aspect of life in Puerto Rico. The dancing culture is also a mainstream entertainment in the culture. Though the game of Baseball would find its way to the island in 1896 where the first game was played by the sons of a Spanish Army Officer. Through American influence, the game grew fast with University teams playing in 1902 between other teams in Puerto Rico. In the 1920s teams were bought from Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Venezuela. The Cincinnati Reds even came to train in the Winter of 1936. As we see the growth of the game of Baseball on the island we now have to look at how it changed the culture. In 1913 a change was made to add physical education to the program of studies at schools. American sports were being played and taught in these schools with the growth of basketball, baseball, volleyball, and tennis. The culture began to shift into a more modern form of sports. The games popular here became popular there. A good example of this growth and popularity is when the United States entered World War Two a Caribbean Defense Command was set up in Puerto Rico. During all the craziness of the war, there were still Baseball fields on base and Basketball courts on base. This was due to these sports being so well established in Puerto Rican culture already. The sports found a way to grow so rapidly the island would later in the more modern era produce some of the greatest Baseball talents of all time. The expansion of sports in the culture for Puerto Rico helped modernize its people. They began to compete on a global scale and have continued to do so today.

For this weeks reading, we get to dive into the history of a sport that has been known as, “America’s favorite pass time,” the sport of baseball. Baseball has seen to be ingrained in the life of Americans and appears to be an American sport, but what many don’t realize is the international love that baseball has. From Japan to Central America, these countries have produced some of the best baseball players, the world has ever seen and is beloved by some many. With the Park piece, we get to see how thanks to the Spanish American war and Manifest Destiny, the spread of American influence over Puerto Rico. With the Gonzalez piece, we get to see the growth of baseball in Cuba and the influence it had there. Both countries had a great deal of influence from the United States thanks to the previously mention of Spanish American war. Eventually, the game would grow in both countries. For Puerto Rico, Park tells us that the foundation of the University of Puerto Rico allowed for college athletics to come and help get many people involved. As the college game began to grow, so did high school and other levels of the game. Then comes the YMCA, who tried to go international with sports. Park tell us that the YMCA wasn’t as influential in Puerto Rico but still managed to push the sport. Even with the onset of WW2 baseball and other sports grew in Puerto Rico. In Cuba, baseball grew before the Americans even arrived. Established around 1870, the Cuban people began to adopt the American sport and play their own games. Throughout Cuba’s change in government, social unrest, wars, and other forces, baseball would still continue to grow and have a root in Cuban nationalism. Baseball in Cuba would eventually grow into rivalries between Havana and Almendares. This rivalry would stay at the core of Cuban baseball and shape it throughout the 19th century. These two factors would help propel baseball and help build the professional leagues in Cuba. Both Puerto Rico and Cuba have rich history and influence in the world of Baseball. Both the countries and the sport has been shaped by outside forces, but have allowed for later generations to thrive in the sport. The rise of baseball has allowed a new found pride for these countries and has helped the way these countries view sports.

In “The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball” Roberto Echevarria talks about the impact of baseball in Cuba. He mentions how similar the rise of baseball was in Cuba compared to the rise of Baseball in the United states of America. It always seems no matter where baseball lands, baseball has the whole “National pastime” gimmick and this certainly was no different in Cuba. In Cuba that was a sport similar to baseball there so them adapting to baseball isn’t that much of a stretch though, this sport is more closer linked to tennis than to Baseball. Also, he mentioned that Baseball was able to connect all Cubans together no matter what social/political unrest was happening in Cuba.

Baseball in the texts we have read up to this point was dominant, taking up the mantle in America as the number one sport. Baseball had no struggle to maintain its status quo and often stopped other sports from challenging its popularity. Just shortly across the waters from Florida is Cuba and baseball has a similar story there. In the text “The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball” written by Roberto Echevarria he writes about the history of early baseball within Cuba. The sports baseball competed with were bullfighting and theater were the most popular things to do, and see. Interestingly enough Cubans played a game similar to baseball, although by design it is more closely linked to tennis. Echevarria’s main points are how baseball has had a myth like rise in Cuba and how the sport developed alongside Cuban nationality, and the rivalries that developed within the country between Habana and Almendares. Similar to baseball in the United States, the sport soon took off into massive popularity. Echevarria reveals throughout his text that baseball rose into a similar popularity as the United States, becoming a favored pastime and in other cases, a lifestyle. Baseball unified Cuba in a time of political and social unrest, the sport brought all the different classes together following the Spanish-American War. Echevarria focuses on how the sport may have been introduced by the Americans, but it quickly became identifiably Cuban, as they helped shape the sport in very significant ways. 

In Robert Gumstead’s chapter of ‘The Sporting World of the Modern South’ he writes about the rise and origins of baseball in Puerto Rico. The origins are similar to Cuba in that they both originated from interactions with Americans. While Puerto Rico was not occupied by the United States like Cuba was, Puerto Rico became a trading partner to the United States and soon American ideology spread. Among the most interesting points in Gumstead’s chapter is how sports became a part of schools curriculum in Puerto Rico, namely baseball since it became the most popular. These chapters reveal that baseball grew in areas outside of the United States, mostly the countries they interacted with because it was so massively popular in America that it was bound to spread to the nations near it. I find it interesting how baseball quickly took up popularity within Cuba and Puerto Rico, or even how despite political tensions between the United States and Cuba the ‘American’ sport still maintained popularity in Cuba. Furthermore, how baseball can be seen as an indicator of bringing the United States and Puerto Rico closer together socially, and politically through the shared pastime. Baseball becoming a national pastime within Puerto Rico and Cuba shows that baseball was not just an American sport, but growing outside of the United States and becoming a national identifier for other countries too. These readings show the importance of baseball outside of the United States and more importantly the interconnecting of different cultures through a sport. Although baseball did have racialized leagues, the sport itself still managed to bring together the people of Cuba, and Puerto Rico in their own way.

In Roberto Echevarria’s book “The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball,” he presents a new idea about the struggle of baseball in Cuba. In all the previous texts we have discussed, baseball the king and did everything to prevent other sports from taking their spotlight. However, Echevarria points out how in Cuba baseball was the sport that had to fight to gain attention. Baseball in Cuba had an uphill battle as bullfighting and theaters held the entertainment eye of the Cuban people. Another interesting point was that baseball was considered a “modern” sport in Cuba, was it seem the same way in the rest of the world? Echevarria also points out how the Ten Years’ War created many different struggles for the people of Cuba. Famine and social unrest lead to baseball creating a place of unity. Baseball allowed people to forget their social classes and cheer for a team, it helped the “democratization and secularization of Cuban culture”.  Roberta Park informs readers that baseball was first introduced to Puerto Rico by Spanish officers who had been stationed in Cuba. Baseball had grown in Cuba to a point that after the Spanish American War in 1898 and was beginning to spill into nearby countries.

Unlike in Cuba, in Puerto Rico baseball took hold in different schools and universities. In fact, Roberta Park points out how the first meeting to two baseball teams was in 1905 between schools. Different from Cuba, America had a much greater say in the education reforms in the early 20th century and had an impressive say on sports in schools. This article reminds me of previous readings about the YMCA and how the US government used them to spread “American Ideals”. This makes me wonder if the relationship between Puerto Rico and America is from this heavy influence. Also because the US did not directly impact Cuban schools and thinking, did it lead to a negative relationship in the future? 

Baseball, the great American pastime, while it is true that baseball holds a special place in the eyes of Americans, it is just as important in other parts of the world. We see so often today that a large number of players in the MLB are not American and come from various Asian and Latin American countries. Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria specifically discusses the presence of baseball in Cuba. Echevarria discusses the idea of myths and distortions when discussing the history of baseball and how the too the Cubans, they were the inventors of the game and played a game similar to baseball centuries before the U.S. had even thought about it. He also describes how this way of thinking is in line with the anti American sentiment in Cuba. Since the days of Fidel Castro in the late 1950s early 60s, Cuba has been at odd with the USA on almost everything and being how baseball is so sacred to them, it is natural for them to try and claim it to be their own and completely erase the USA from its history. Echevarria discusses however that baseball likely came to Cuba in the late 1800s when the USA was helping to build up Cuba and they had close relations. Echevarria then goes on to say how baseball became a way for the Cubans to rebel against Spanish rule. The population of children and young adults going outside and playing an American game was almost like a spit in the face of the Spanish. Baseball is a symbol of defiance and freedom to the Cubans which is why it is so sacred to them.

Puerto Rico has similar origins when it comes to baseball as described in From La Bomba to Beisbol by Roberta Park. This article describes how the USA came to become a major trading partner in Puerto Rico after the Spanish were forced to leave. The USA helped to institute bilingual schools in Puerto Rico and many students learned English along with speaking their native Spanish. Sports became part of the curriculum for many Puerto Rican students and baseball was the undeniable king. The YMCA in particular was a big group that was helping to spread the American ideals, we saw this a couple weeks ago when we were discussing how the YMCA spread sports to Brazil and the Philippines and here they area again helping to spread American ideals and sports. This integration of sports has helped bring Puerto Rico into more global affairs and the island continues to be a feature in American policy and likely one day will become the 51st state. Baseball is very important to Latin America and the Caribbean, it is one of very places in the world where there is a sport that is more popular than Soccer and it has helped create a national identity for those nations.

Within the United States, Americans tend to think Baseball is as American as apple pie but does one nation truly own this sport? Two articles explore these ideas The Pride of Havana A History of Cuban Baseball by Roberto Gonzlez Echevrria and Baseball, The Lost Cause, and the New South in Richmond , Virginia by Robert H. Gudmestad. Echerria states that kf one were to ask individuals who live throughout the Caribbean Islands, they would tell you the opposite, making the arguments that history shows that the game of Baseball is ingrained within Cuban, Hattian, and Puerto Rican culture. The citizens of these nations would even state that the sport goes back to before colonial times, with the Tainos people playing a game consider similar to todays baseball. Even within the United States Baseball means something different to different regions, an example being the baseball leagues of the late 1800s following the Civil War in Virginia. The Virginian baseball league of this time used the sport in order to keep alive the Lost Cause Myth of the Civil War, which in short states that the war was not about slavery, but about northern oppression of southern culture. This theme of racial tension is even found in Caribbean baseball and Cuban Africans and White Cubans found themselves rivaling each other, especially after the Spanish American War. Some would even immigrate to United States and enter into the nergo league of the MLB respectively. It is overwhelmingly clear that baseball has had a surreal effect on those in both countries.  

            Overall, I find the idea of Baseball making into all aspects of society interesting, Cuban Baseball means so much to the citizens of that nation, it’s more than just a pastime. Cuban’s see baseball as a sport that represents freedom from oppressors, since many of the heroes of early baseball fought for independence from Spain, and it also means to be oppressed, as seen by the Afro-Cubans who played during the late 1800s early 1900s. It is simply fascinating how baseball can wiggle its way through a nation’s history connecting so many major events without directly causing said events or making them worse or better. It is even sadder to see how Baseball can keep a racist narrative alive in society through the individuals who play the sport as seen in the Virginian Baseball Clubs. In the end, these two articles were Enlightening