Son of Havana: A Baseball Journey from Cuba to the Big Leagues and Back

Son of Havana: A Baseball Journey from Cuba to the Big Leagues and Back

Son of Havana: A Baseball Journey from Cuba to the Big Leagues and Back

Son of Havana: A Baseball Journey from Cuba to the Big Leagues and Back


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The improbable story of Luis Tiant—a living link to the earliest days of Fidel Castro’s regime, a Boston Red Sox legend, and the most qualified 20th Century pitcher not yet enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Luis Tiant is one of the most charismatic and accomplished players in the history of the Boston Red Sox and all of Major League Baseball—a cigar-chomping maestro who was the heart and soul of Boston’s title-contending teams in the 1970s. In his white polyester uniform, with a barrel-chested physique and a Fu Manchu mustache, Tiant may not have looked like the lean, sculpted aces he usually faced off against, but nobody was a tougher competitor on the diamond, and few were as successful. There may be no more qualified 20th-century pitcher not yet enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

His big-league dreams came at a steep price—racism in the Deep South and the Boston suburbs, and nearly fifteen years separated from a family held captive in Castro’s Cuba. But baseball also delivered World Series stardom and a heroic return to his island home after close to a half-century of forced exile. The man whose name—"El Tiante"—became a Fenway Park battle cry has never fully shared his tale in his own words, until now.

In Son of Havana, Tiant puts his huge heart on his sleeve and describes his road from fields strewn with rocks and rubbish in Havana to the pristine lawns of major league ballparks. Teammates, opponents, family, and media also weigh-in—including a foreword by fellow Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski and the first in-depth interview ever with Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk on the magic behind these Boston batterymates.

Readers will share Tiant’s pride when appeals by a pair of U.S. senators to baseball-fanatic Castro secure freedom for Luis’s parents to fly to Boston and witness the 1975 World Series glory of their child. And readers will join the big-league ballplayers for their spring 2016 exhibition game in Havana, when Tiant—a living link to the earliest, scariest days of the Castro regime—threw out the first pitch.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635767872
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication date: 12/07/2021
Pages: 338
Sales rank: 226,440
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.84(d)

About the Author

Luis Tiant has won more games than any other Cuban-born pitcher in the major league history. From 1964 to 1982, he compiled 229 wins, 49 shutouts, 187 complete games, and 2,416 strikeouts. Born in Havana in 1940, the son of a legendary Negro League pitcher, he was 23 years old when he broke into the majors by shutting out the mighty Yankees—three years after leaving Cuba and being forced into exile in the aftermath of Fidel Castro's bloody New Year’s Eve takeover in 1959. A star in the 1975 World Series for the Red Sox, Tiant's unique windup, big-game heroics, and exuberant personality made him one of the most popular athletes in New England (and Cuban) sports history. He finally returned home to Havana in 2007, forty-six years after saying goodbye to his parents. Arguably the best 20th-century pitcher not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Tiant divides his time between Maine, Florida, and Fenway Park.

Saul Wisnia has authored, co-authored, or otherwise contributed to numerous books on Boston and general baseball history, including Fenway Park: The Centennial and Miracle at Fenway: The Inside Story of the Boston Red Sox 2004 Championship Season. He is a former sports and news correspondent at the Washington Post and feature writer at the Boston Herald, whose essays have appeared in Sports Illustrated, the Boston Globe, Red Sox Magazine, and Boston Magazine. For the past twenty years, he has chronicled the unique relationship between the Red Sox and young cancer patients as senior publications editor-writer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Wisnia lives in his native Newton, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Foreword Carl Yastrzemski iv

1 Shutting Up Pete Rose 1

2 Señor Skinny 5

3 Cuba Dreams 15

4 You Can't Go Home Again 24

5 From the Bushes to the Bronx 38

6 Coming of Age in Cleveland 57

7 Poor Man's McLain 78

8 Down and (Almost) Out 92

9 Twin Killings and Red Sox 109

10 Rebirth in Boston 122

11 Pudge and Me 143

12 Heart and Soul 154

13 Race and Reunion 170

14 The World is Watching 190

15 Damn Yankees 213

16 Over My Dead Body 227

17 Pinstripes and Plataneros 246

18 Finally, Back at Fenway 264

19 Home to Havana 285

Acknowledgments 297

Notes 299

About the Authors 314

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