"The Pride of Havana is an absorbing history of Cuban baseball and the impact so many Cuban players have had on the game in the United States. It sparkles like El Duque in October."--Bob Costas, NBC Sports
"Writing with the precision of the connoisseur and the passion of the aficionado, Gonzalez Echevarria provides a masterful account of Cuban 'beisbol' that is at the same time a profound meditation on the island's national culture. In many ways this extraordinary book marks the culmination of the author's distinguished career as the pre-eminent writer-scholar of our generation. A dinger!"--Gustavo Perez Firmat, Columbia University, author of The Cuban Condition: Translation and Identity in Modern Cuban Literature
"From Martin Dihigo to Minnie Minoso, Cuban baseball provided excitement for all. In The Pride of Havana, Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria brings back the thrills and colorful stories that made the Cuban League so memorable for players, owners, and fans."--Bobby Bragan, former manager of Pirates, Indians, Braves, and Almendares Scorpions
"The study features an excellent bibliography plus detailed notes for each chapter. The research is exhaustive, based on primary sources and interviews that include numerous anecdotes, making this an engaging read."--Library Journal
"The Pride of Havana is a massively detailed chronicle of the history of baseball in Cuba, written with the passion of a fan of the country and of the game. Gonzalez Echevarria makes a convincing case that America'a national pastime is also Cuba's national pastime."--Marty Linsky, Wilson Quarterly
"Using a wide array of sources including newspapers, interviews, and written memoirs, Mr. Gonzalez Echevarria has reconstructed a remarkably rich and detailed narrative of the history of baseball in Cuba, from its earliest versions, in the mind-19th century, to its recent triumphs in international competitions and travails as it witnesses many of its best players defect to the United States in search of better pay and living conditions."--The Washington Times
"A chronicle and celebration of the national pastime of Cuba, lovingly told by a professor of Hispanic literature at Yale who has been a semipro catcher himself."--New York Times Book Review
Echevarria eschews the hokey mysticism that afflicts so many other baseball writers and also manages to avoid miring his observations in tendentious political or economic analysis. He provides appropriate context, to be sure; but this is a book about baseball, not about baseball-as-metaphor. It has been written by a man whose love for the sport is matched, fortunately, by his acumen as an historian and facility as a stylist.
Using a wide array of sources including newspapers, interviews, and written memoirs, Mr. Gonzalez has reconstructed a remarkably rich and detailed narrative of the history of baseball in Cuba; from its earliest versions, in the mid-19th century, to its recent triumphs in international competitions.
The Washington Post
Echevarria, a literary critic and professor of Hispanic and comparative literature at Yale, has written a definitive cultural history of Cuban baseball from 1860 to the present. A former semi-pro catcher born and raised in Cuba, he currently plays in the Connecticut Senior Baseball League. According to Echevarria, baseball filled a void when Cuba rejected bullfighting and other Spanish influences. Despite all the political turbulence, the game has survived to become as much a part of Cuba's social fabric as soccer is for Brazil. The study features an excellent bibliography plus detailed notes for each chapter. The research is exhaustive, based on primary sources and interviews that include numerous anecdotes, making this an engaging read. Although this book is not for everyone, purists and historians of baseball will enjoy it. Buy where demand warrants.--Larry Little, Penticton P.L., B.C.
Decidedly anti-Castro...Eschevarria clearly believes that under new conditions Cuba would quickly regain its baseball prominence, and his walk through the history of Cuban baseball is written in this prideful key.
The New York Times Book Review
...[Serves] up a tureen of politics and baseball, with a little foreign affairs to spice the mix....a massively detailed chronicle...written with the passion of a fan of the country and of the game.
WQ: The Wilson Quarterly
From the sugarmill leagues to the World Series impact of defectors like Livian Hernandez and "El Duque," this is a catcher's-mask view of Cuban culture and history. González Echevarría (Hispanic and Comparative Literature/Yale; editor, The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories,1997) is a former semi-pro catcher who grew up with amateur baseball in Cuba's sugarmill country, where it is the local religion. Even Castro couldn't dampen Cuba's passion for baseball, which developed there into a patient, artistic game that disdained the American penchant for the beefy slugger and the specialist. Cultural ties with the US were tighter and international issues just as complex in pre-revolution days, when the nations were but a ferry ride apart. The name alone of a Negro League team, the New York Cubans, speaks volumes about the long influence of Cuban baseball, and the race issue, on America's pastime. Cubans of African descent were often barred from the more professional Cuban leagues before the revolution. González Echevarría will surprise fans with the salaries and Hall of Fame names of American ballplayers who played in Cuba (especially as minor leaguers) as early as the 1950s. By the '70s, the Cuban national team often dominated international competition. One solution by rivals was to deny them visas as Communists: "If you can't beat them, don't let them play." Politics and baseball are stitched together here, and fans will find history and sports well served in a solid text covering most of this century, buttressed by research including interviews with sportscasters, managers, and players. Whether or not the author's predicted "avalanche" of Cubanplayers follows any political thaw in US-Cuban relations, his point about Cuba's impact on the gameand vice versais strongly made. (20 b&w photos, not seen)