The Cuban ballplayers were tough competitors. Ted Page who played from 1926 to 1937 spoke of the intense rivalry between the Negro Leaguers and Latin ballplayers. One day he faced Cuban pitcher Luis Tiant Sr and tripled his first time up. The second go round Page crowded the plate expecting a curve but Tiant unleashed a head high fastball that struck Page in the temple knocking him unconscious. As he was coming to there was Tiant, unremorseful, and instead of an apology offered, “You no hit that one too well!”
Another on-field incident involved Frank Warfield and Creole born Oliver Marcelle, who loved to drink and with his infamous temper, loved to fight. In 1929 during a game in Cuba the two engaged in a brawl during which Warfield bit off a piece Marcelle’s nose. From then on he wore a patch over the hole but the fans' continuous ridicule would bring his career to a premature end.
Baseball and local politics were often intertwined. Perhaps the consummate baseball story was told by Baseball Hall of Fame member Monte Irvin about Fidel Castro, “Well we were out there for spring training one day and this tall lanky fellow was trying out for the team. He had a pretty fair fastball and a good curve ball. Well, if we’d have known that he was going to grow up to be the dictator, we’d have made him the umpire!”
The passions of the Game intersected with the emotions of the time. The great scandal of 1920's Havana was the elopement of a famed, "Spanish" beauty with Bartolo Portuondo, a star Negro league baseball player feted in both Cuba and America. Their daughter Omara became the most important Cuba vocalist of our time; singing with Nat King Cole, and starring in Wim Wenders, "Buena Vista Social Club." Race relations in Cuba were complex and multi-faceted. We will illuminate the subject thru the lens of baseball, in much the same way the Jackie Robinson story sheds light on American race relations.
Cost to make this documentary is $375,000. It is a heretofore untold tale that will entertain and educate audiences in baseball loving countries throughout the world.