Baseball has long been considered the great American Pastime, for many it conjures up images of children playing in little league games and the epic scenes of Field of Dreams, in which the diamond is surrounded by cornfields. However imagine such a diamond surrounded by sugar cane. This is the case in Cuba where baseball has overwhelmingly come to be viewed as the true national sport of the country. Cuban players are among the greatest to play the game in the major leagues, with players like José Canseco, Rafael Palmiero, and José Contreras having storied careers in modern times. However Cuba's relationship to baseball goes far beyond a simple breeding ground for Major League Baseball.
[...] Perez further adds “Baseball offered the possibility of national integration of all Cubans, of all classes, black and white, young and old, men and women.”.Though limited in actuality, the baseball-inspired rising feelings of nationalism in Cuba helped begin to break down racial barriers in the country. As the popularity of baseball expanded so rapidly, and throughout the entire nation, a growing feeling of nationalism related to this game was inevitable. Klein concludes that baseball can indeed be used as a tool to empower nations, despite the fact it is implemented by another, more powerful country; “baseball, a cultural institution developed by colonial powers and diffused as part of a colonial enterprise, has the capacity to be used by developing countries to create a sense of empowerment”. [...]
[...] Jr., “Between Baseball and Bullfighting: The Quest for Nationality in The Journal of American History, Vol No 2 (1994), 493-517. Perez, Louis A. Jr., On Becoming Cuban, (New York, 1999), 60-95. Louis A. Perez Jr., “Between Baseball and Bullfighting: The Quest for Nationality in The Journal of American History, Vol No 2 (1994) Eric Enders, “Through the Looking Glass: The Forgotten world of Cuban Baseball”, Nine: a Journal of Baseball History and Culture, Vol (2003) Perez “Baseball and Bullfighting” Perez, “Baseball and Bullfighting” Louis A. [...]
[...] Less than a year after the war had ended, Cubans witnessed the end to any Spanish involvement in popular forms of recreation. In 1899 the United States military government officially banned bullfighting on the island of Cuba. It seemed after this event that the spectacle of baseball had fully taken hold of Cuba, and helped provide it with a unique sense of nationalism and a rejection of Spanish culture. Baseball was used by the Cuban people as a means to create a true sense of national identity, and to alter social norms. [...]
[...] It is therefore not astonishing that between 1870 and the early 1890s more than two hundred baseball teams were organized across Cuba. The popularity of baseball in Cuba was not limited merely to participation either, games began to attract substantial numbers of spectators in the stands, with big games bringing upwards of 6000 people. The popularity of baseball for spectators and participants could not be denied, it was a cultural phenomenon in Cuba. The growth of baseball grew to virtually every small town in Cuba and so the lower classes experienced a new opportunity for social mobility in the 19th century. [...]
[...] Attendance at the baseball game allowed women to be in the public eye at an important event, and an event that was riddled with a sense of nationhood as well, thereby including women in this movement towards national identity. Baseball clubs in Cuba also formed honorary boards of directors, which were composed entirely of women. This also shows clearly that women, more than spectators, were active participants in the managing of baseball clubs, further exemplifying the extent to which baseball was changing the Cuban way of life. [...]
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