A journey of more than 100 years. Hundreds of feats and records. Thousands of baseball players… The richness and history of Cuban baseball and its protagonists goes beyond our imagination, transcending borders, time, race, and ideologies.
That’s why it is so complicated to sit before a blank sheet of paper and make a list of 10 names, 10 of the island’s heroes of the diamond, 10 representative figures of the sport of balls and strikes, which has frequently been the victim of fractionalization.
Yes, when talking about Cuban baseball and the selection of its best players, many only refer to the participants only in the National Series, while others are exclusively in favor of professional players, as if wanting to deny in each case what has been achieved on the other shore.
This unfortunate situation has persisted for decades, and is so rooted that in the discussion about the best all-time Cuban pitchers that a fan of Braudilio Vinent or of Rogelio García may not even mention Camilo Pascual or Luis Tiant, and vice versa.
How then to choose the 10 best players in history without unleashing a controversy?
How to reject in a selection Tony Oliva’s three batting titles with the Minnesota Twins, the precursor figure of Esteban Bellán, the 600 stolen bases and the three home runs in a row of Bert Campaneris, the 2,000 strike-outs and the electric curve of Changa Mederos, or the “immortality” of José de la Caridad Méndez and Cristóbal Torriente?
How to explain the absence of Enrique Díaz and his long list of records, or of Willy Miranda, Conrado Marrero, Félix Isasi, Wilfredo Sánchez? How to explain that Luis Giraldo Casanova, Antonio Muñoz, Víctor Mesa, Pedro Luis Lazo, José Ariel Contreras (and so on) are not on the list?
It’s impossible. There isn’t a formula that brings us to a perfect selection, basically because the lists are too personal, almost always worlds apart given tastes, affiliations, passions…
Those are precisely the details influencing this list, whose principal feature is that it doesn’t recognize dividing lines, or distinctions between those who left and those who stayed, between pitchers and batters, between amateurs and professionals, between whites and blacks. But let me warn you, just like any selection, it is marked by my personal view. Don’t hate me.
Note: For this list we did not take into account current players or players who have been linked
to steroid use.