A wait of 65 years for a team to represent all Cubans

Orlando “El Duque” Hernández, the only player who won everything in baseball, stated that the team that will participate in the Intercontinental Series in Barranquilla, Colombia, aims to unite and represent all Cubans.

The multiple winner of the World Series, winner with Cuba in amateur baseball of the Olympic, Pan American, World and Goodwill Games gold, made these statements during the program on Mega TV hosted by Camilo Loret de Mola, on Friday night January 5.

A group of legendary Cuban baseball players in exile formed the Cuban Professional Baseball Federation based in Miami and the brand new organization accepted the invitation of Edgar Rentería to play in the series with the participation of six countries in the stadium that bears his name, of the January 26 to February 1.

On January 23, the delegation will travel to Barranquilla and will debut against Japan in three days.

“El Duque” is the general manager of the team; Bryan Peña, manager; and Euclides Rojas, bench coach. Annie Izquierdo is the executive director of FEPCUBE. All of them participated in the program along with former players Edilberto Oropesa and Hansel Izquierdo Isaac.

“One Team, One Dream” is the motto of the Cuban national team and “El Duque” stressed that his institution has its doors open to all those who are interested in the project.

“We are not looking for players from other federations, not even Cuba,” explained “El Duque.” “We just want to give a message of freedom, especially for all Cubans who long to be free.” “We are not looking for players from other federations, not even Cuba,” explained “El Duque.” “We just want to give a message of freedom, especially for all Cubans who long to be free.”

For his part, Rojas pointed out that the objective of this project is simply to “play baseball.”

Before the program on Mega TV, Rojas and “El Duque” remembered when they faced each other for the American League Championship Series. Rojas was a bullpen coach for the Red Sox and Hernández pitched for the Yankees.

“That time in 2004 we were the first team in Major League history to win a playoff series after being down 0-3,” Rojas said. “After sealing the 4-3, ‘El Duque’ ran to where I was to congratulate me. “Then we swept the St. Louis Cardinals and gave the Red Sox their first World Series in 86 years.”

Many stories like this are concentrated in the FEPCUBE. It is enough to mention some names, as “El Duque” did, of people who make up this organization such as Liván “I love Miami” Hernández, René Arocha, Michael Tejera, among many others.

Oropesa is one of the most excited about the Intercontinental Series in which, in addition to Cuba and Japan, Colombia, Curacao, South Korea and the United States participate.

“I am very excited because it will be the first time that I am going to pitch for a Cuban team,” said Oropesa. “I was going to play for Cuba at the University at Buffalo, but before I threw my first pitch I jumped the fence and ran away. “That was in 1993.”

Peña, who was a star catcher on five Major League teams, received special permission from his club, the Detroit Tigers, where he is a coach, to lead the Cuban team. He sees this team beyond sports.

“We want to give hope to our people,” Peña said. “It is something special, unique. We are going to start practices on Saturday, January 6 with voluntary presence and two days later the official start of training will be.”

FEPCUBE spokesperson Ian Padrón said that there is enormous enthusiasm for the plans of this organization that has very particular characteristics.

“This is a very important project because for the first time it will unite many Cubans around baseball,” said Padrón. “The players themselves are going to choose with absolute freedom whether they want to play or not.”

“El Duque” Hernández diplomatically addressed what the FEPCUBE intends because the differences between the exile and the Cuban authorities on the island cannot be ignored.

“We always focus on respect, humility and brotherhood,” Hernandez said. “Cuba forms a team of everyone to play in Barranquilla.”

It was clear that in Barranquilla when the FEPCUBE team is presented, the Cuban national anthem will be sung and the team will wear the colors of Cuba in the Intercontinental Series.

“We are Cubans,” “El Duque” reasoned categorically.