UT baseball team sweeps Cuban teams
A piece of Tampa’s baseball heritage has come full circle. The University of Tampa baseball team traveled to Cuba in January to play three exhibition games against some of the country’s best baseball teams.
The baseball ties between Cuba and Tampa began in the early 1900s with the establishment of the immigrant leagues, which included the Inter-social and factory leagues, and were composed of mainly Cuban and Italian immigrants. Until the 1960s, Tampa youth and Minor League teams regularly played Cuban teams.
During their week-long trip, the UT Spartans went 3-0, beating the Industriales Blue Lions (2-1), the Artemisa Cazadores (13-5), and the Mayabeque Huracanes (8-6).
| UT baseball players pose with local Cuban boys during the team’s recent trip abroad. Photo credit: UT Athletics
Along with their success on the field, the players experienced Cuban culture off the field. They mingled with retired Cuban ballplayers at a city park in Havana and had the chance to speak with local artists and student groups.
Although the U.S. currently has an embargo against Cuba that restricts travel to the nation, the team was granted the ability to travel through a cultural literacy and international education license by the student ambassador group, People to People.
Parents, coaches and other representatives who helped organize the trip joined the team. Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda was among the group. He had traveled to Cuba as a youth to play a five-game series against Cuba’s top teams.
UT’s successful experience overseas is yet another highlight in Tampa’s deep, rich and illustrious baseball heritage.