May 28th, 2016
“All things considered there are only two kinds of men in the world -- those that stay at home and those that do not. The second are the most interesting.” -Rudyard Kipling
The stellar play and fascinating backstories of exiled Cuban ballplayers in Major League Baseball has become one of the biggest headlines in America's national pastime. On-field exploits by Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, and a handful of others have been further enhanced by feel-good tales of desperate Cuban superstars risking their lives to escape Castro’s communist realm and chase a celebrated American Dream of financial and athletic success. But a truly ugly underbelly to this story has also slowly emerged, one that involves human smuggling operations financed by Miami crime syndicates, operated by Mexican drug cartels, and conveniently ignored by big league ball clubs endlessly searching for fresh waves of international talent.
In Cuba’s Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story, Cuban baseball expert Peter Bjarkman reveals the truth behind the wave of Cuban big league talent coming to Major League Baseball. Given rare access to Cuba and its ballplayers, Bjarkman has spent over twenty years traveling to all corners of the island getting to know the top Cuban stars and witnessing their baseball struggles and triumphs. Bjarkman places recent events -- including the apparent thaw in US-Cuba relations -- in the context of Cuban baseball history and tradition before delving into the stories of the major Cuban stars who have left the island.
Peter Bjarkman is the recognized authority on Cuba’s post-1961 revolutionary-era baseball. He has witnessed domestic-league Cuban baseball firsthand on more than fifty visits to the communist country since 1997 and has also followed the Cuban national team to international events since 1999. Bjarkman is a regular consultant on Cuban baseball for the North American media.
On a May evening, Peter Bjarkman led a packed Clubhouse in a master's class on Cuba's Baseball Defectors. Listen in...