Thursday, August 23, 2012

Female Cuban players defect

Posted on Wednesday, 08.22.12

Female Cuban players defect

Four female baseball players from Cuba have defected from a team that
competed in the V World Cup of Female Baseball in Edmonton, Alberta.
By Jorge Ebro

When a couple of Cuban baseball players abandoned a juvenile team in
Edmonton, Alberta, in 2008, a furious Fidel Castro called Ron Hayter
from Havana to let him know how upset he was.

Hayter, executive director of the International Baseball Federation in
that Canadian city, said that the then-Cuban president really let him
have it with a barrage of insults.

This time, Castro, 86, did not know or simply did not care that four
Cuban female players made history by being the first to defect from a
female delegation in that sport as well as the largest group leaving a
baseball tournament in that city.

Muted response

At least, this time Hayter did not receive any calls associating him
with "the scum of the earth," as he recalled being referred to in that
previous call.

The four female players abandoned the Cuban team that competed in the V
World Cup of Female Baseball, where they hardly left an impact on the
field after losing eight games and winning only one. Yet they turned
into a subplot when three of the girls did not attend the closing
ceremony at Telus Field.

The first one to defect was Odreisleisis Pequero Del Sol, 21, who left
on Aug. 14 and later contacted members of the team to notify them that
she was with her boyfriend on the other side of the Canadian border,
where she had arrived thanks to a transit visa that had been approved
for a stop the team made in Chicago on its way up to Edmonton.

Born in the Cuban city of Ciego de Avila, Pequero — considered one of
the team leaders — played only on Aug. 12, when she was 1 for 2 in the
humiliating 12-4 defeat against Australia.

The daily newspaper Edmonton Journal later confirmed that three other
players had abandoned the Cuban delegation.

"We have always tried to encourage people not to defect, but we can't
control them," Hayter told the newspaper. "We make it clear to all
participating teams that we offer room and board and all other expenses,
but we cannot individually control each person. As the [event]
organizers, we would prefer that no one would stay. But we can't be
blamed when it happens."

Beyond the issue of defections, the Cuban team, managed by the
well-known second baseman of the Cuban Industriales team, Juan Padilla,
went back to its country after a poor demonstration that rendered only
one win (13-5) against the Netherlands. Japan successfully defended its
World Cup title, the United States secured the silver and Canada took
the bronze.

In July 2008, Cuban baseball players Noel Argüelles and José Iglesias
abandoned the team that was competing in the also juvenile World Cup,
held also in Edmonton. Argüelles, a pitcher, was signed by Kansas City
Royals for $7 million, and Iglesias, an infielder, was signed by the
Boston Red Sox for $8.2 million.

Taken by surprise

Yet while defections from male teams had become something "normal" in
the past few decades, the female players' defection surprised everybody.

"If they change their minds here and decide to abandon the team, it's
their country's problem," Hayter told the Canadian press. "We cannot
lock them up in their rooms."

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