HAVANA: A one-off baseball game in Havana between the Tampa Bay Rays and Cuba’s national team will help bridge the historic divide between the two countries, the commissioner of Major League Baseball said on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
“All of us at Major League Baseball are very proud to play a small role in the evolution of the relationship between the United States and Cuba,” the commissioner, Rob Manfred, told journalists in Havana ahead of Tuesday’s game.
“One of the great things about baseball is it’s part of the fabric of American culture and in my short 24 hours here, I’m absolutely convinced that baseball’s also part of the fabric of the Cuban culture,” he said.
Manfred was in Cuba along with President Barack Obama who was meeting Monday with Cuban leader Raul Castro in groundbreaking talks to end a decades-old standoff between the two neighbors.
Obama was due to watch the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban team, which Rays owner Stuart Sternberg called “historic.”
“It’s going to do wonders for the game of baseball, which is why we are here,” Sternberg said.
Although both countries share the love of baseball, there is controversy over the talent drain from Cuba, which has lost many star players to the powerful US market.