tv Book Discussion on Havana Hardball CSPAN November 29, 2015 10:54am-11:31am EST
is not uncommon particularly on, in the valley at that time. so during the missions to lamanites in the great basin there was often these situations where the youth in particular would offer children to the missionaries for sale or for exchange. mormon missionaries not wanting to take them as slaves itches the conditions they had previously existed they will we do not want them we don't want to take that child. historian paul reeves talks about some of those cases they would turn around and kill those children inside now you're going to take one, if you don't take one i'll kill another. so they put them in this very difficult situation where they were then taking these children back. it seems clear that many of the young native children who come
back are not embraced as full members of the family into which they go. they often end up as a in limbo as may be domestics in the household. cared for and fitting clothes but not necessarily fully embraced as a member of the family. that is part of what is so striking between the parallel between frank would and william a carey. he too, as a slave of his own family was in this limbo being both related to but distance held apart from the people with whom he grew up. thank you very much. [applause].
welcome to barnes & noble and fairfax. this author served as baseball editor from 20032 2004. born in havana, he graduated with a bachelors degree from journalism from university of florida. in his 25 years a sports journalist he has written for the a sports journalist he has written for the miami herald, the sun centennial just to name a few. welcome. [applause]. >> thank you. thank you for coming. i want to thank paul for the book and barnes & noble for giving me the opportunity to discuss the book about hardball. i'm good to talk about it and why road it and then hopefully i will answer some questions for you guys. havana hardball chronicles a pivotal time in baseball history. where cuba found itself at the
epicenter of events that would impact major league baseball, big leads, and let leaks for years to comes. i chose to focus on this particular time period, the 19 forties, at least in part because of my father. he is on the photo over here, he is the boy the cat. he grew up in cuba cat. he grew up in cuba in the 1940s and 50s as a fan, that's the baseball cap he is wearing their with one of his uncles. it was one of the four teams in the cuban league, he would tell me stories about american players who would come to cuba every winter to play baseball. among some of the players who tell me about where people like tom lasorda who went on to become manager of the dodgers, future hall of famer's money urban, rate dandridge, players such as hank thompson and terry mcduffie.
also before chuck connors was famous as the rifleman and he was a dodgers farmhand who played. so as i started my career as a sports writer is started to find some of these players retired in florida. i began interviewing them for newspaper articles with the idea that hopefully i would be able to write a book on the topic. once i learned that jackie robinson, that his historic major league debut basically began in cuba with spring training, at that point he and the cuban league became a mini obsession for me. so for some 20 years, i conducted interviews, gathered information, collected photos, programs, and other cuban league artifacts. finally a few years ago when the university press of florida expressed an interest in publishing my book, the subject was a no-brainer. the stories from my youth were the obvious choice.
and suddenly the game would be canceled by light malfunction or they would arrive at the stadium would be padlocked, or there'd be a police officer informed him there was a city ordinance or having blacks and whites from playing together. so in 1947 they decide to move the dodgers spring training base from daytona beach to havana. prevent interracial baseball in the cuban leagues since the 1900s so he chose have been more tolerant racial climate there as opposed to jim crow florida. but in february 1947 it still was not entirely clear that
robinson's rise to the majors was guaranteed. he had to do with a lot of obstacles in cuba. he had to learn a new position. he had stomach problems to deal with. and injury late in spring training, even segregated accommodations surprisingly enough. manager was absent for that spring training and, of course, there was the petition by players designed to prevent robinson from making the dodgers. so the book, the two main storylines, but also blow against the backdrop of the mexican league trying to lure players, major league players to break their contracts employed in mexico. why that's important is in order to counter that commissioner happy chandler declared all the jumpers as being in eligible to play in organized baseball for at least five years. the impact that it has on the cuban league was he also declared that anyone who played either with or against the
jumpers also were ineligible. so chandler's edict meant that many cuban players suddenly found that their career in organized baseball was in jeopardy, and the cuban lake itself was now a rogue lead. so the book explores these conflicts how they came into being and how they were resolved and then looks at what happens going forward. so those are all the remarks i had prepared. hopefully you guys have some questions and i would be glad to answer them if anybody has some. >> twenty years in the making, did you travel back and forth obviously to the eye of a good bit, oh, no? >> actually i did not travel at all to the island. these were mostly, there were plenty of interviews with retired players aggressive in florida. host of interviews i did actually with the players in the book were conducted probably
between the early to mid 90s and early 2000. the rest of it was just a research. i was able to get a hold of two cuban newspapers through the library of congress. also the sporting news did a remarkable job really covering all the latin leagues back then, so that was a big source for research. and the "new york times" had a writer with a brooklyn dodgers during spring training in cuba. to other than the images i had done years before, a lot of it was just looking through old newspapers. they were books that touched on the subject here and here, maybe part of a chapter or chapter that make it especially books like on jackie robinson but no onunfortunate i have not been ae to go to cuba. my family thought i was five months old and i've not been
back. i'm desperate to get there at some point. yes. >> did you ever play a small we knew were little? >> mostly pickup games with friends. so no, i never played like organized ball beyond ninth grade maybe like park league, but i love baseball and always have. spin what was the hardest thing about this project? >> the hardest thing was getting a publisher. like i said i kind of started this thing 20 years ago, and made sort of what i look back now, the queries to try to get a publisher. i was really focused on exactly what the book would say so i understand why i got the rejection letters. and then time, just like happened. you get a job, you get married, you have kids. it's tough to carve out the time
to do something like this without knowing if it's ever going to get published. so i'm thankful that a former journalism professor of mine actually put me in touch with a publisher a few years ago. so once i knew that i had a publisher that was the motivation i needed to sort of car about three hours the night to write and finish the research and get it done. >> what made you focus on that particular period you wrote about what you seem to have limited it to a narrower focus? >> a couple of factors. blending my interest but also there had already been pride of havana is a really in depth sort of the entire scope of history of baseball in cuba. the book had already been done. so we published expressed interest i could really say i'm going to do the exact same thing. i knew i needed something more focused. and because of, but because of
jackie robinson's presence, the fact that you had this mexican league rating going on, the greatest season ever in league history, all those factors coming together at the same time. that sort of made it a natural place to start the it also helped that the foru for managin the cuban lake at the time -- the four managers -- they were all legends as players in the cuban league. so when i talk about them as managers i was able to use that sort of thing jumping off point to tell the back story of the cuban league you're in with the dodgers coming to for spring training but also get a chance, that was part, that happen every year they would be major league teams, negro league teams. taking a chance to talk about the called their the american
series, the back story of all the times the major-league teams had come to cuba before 1947. >> i guess kind of a spoiler, i don't know how spoilers, i allowed as questioned about specific points speak with sure. i may not answer. [laughter] >> there's a story about ernest hemingway. could you kind of -- >> sure. there were quite a few cover stories and that was certainly one of the best ones. and again this was, this didn't happen in 1946-47 by the dodgers have been coming to cuba for quite a while.
they did spring training there in 1941 and 1942. on one of those trips anyway at that point was living in cuba and had, he would run into the players at casinos, at the national christian and yet find a handful of them activist the state in cuba. at after many drinks basically got into a boxing match with one of the dodgers players, and eventually suggested that they duel the next morning. so there's many stories like that, especially with the dodgers. >> have you heard from people in the dodgers organization? >> no, not at this point, no. spent less sort of? >> no, he didn't play in this era. he actually played in the '50s, a little later so he would not event at this time. maybe for the next book.
>> are you imagining another the? >> i am. probably come up already actually started conducting interviews i want to do something on the final days of professional baseball in cuba with the cuban lake and also the aaa team that was there at the time. >> when you write a book like this, if it gets relegated to the sports section, it's for all appeal may be limited simply because people don't see the book. i'm not a baseball person, i don't know baseball history but it looks like a book that i probably will buy and read. and this incident it's a book that belongs somewhere else other than just next to football, baseball. it's a book that's more than a? >> whenever you write something about the jackie robinson,
especially at that time breaking the color barrier you are sorted by the topic itself you're dealing with more than just baseball. to meet jackie robinson breaking the color is a socially significant event in histor in y of sports may be. because of the impact it had as far as what happened in the future with the civil rights movement, and having an african-american player in the majors, what they did to further that cause the it can't be understated. i did try to put him while it is a baseball book i did try to put it in the historical context of the time, especially in cuba what was happening then, or what had happened in the past. just, for example, want that in my research was that from almost the beginning, baseball went hand in hand with cuba's war for independence against spain. games would be set up in key west or tampa, and some of that
money would go back to cuba for the cause, for the cause of independence. some of the founders of the cuban league were also involved with cuba's war for independence from spain. i kept one of those sort of political links during the research. so yeah, it is a baseball book but i did try to put into context of the historical events of the time. >> a lot of time this discussion about athletes today not knowing the history of the game. the cuban players today know the history? >> of the cuban league? you know, that's hard to say. i'm not sure how much in cuba they know about the past but it seems like they do. whenever you see, if you're familiar with it at all, in cuba it's called the hot corner, is
this part in the park in downtown havana, where geisinger and just argued about baseball the country they know about what's going on here. they get information about the games you. i do think they know about the history their, but as far as the young players i'm not sure. i would be curious. >> anybody else? >> what surprised you the most about what you found? >> one thing that definitely surprising that this is kind of inside baseball so i apologize for that but i found it fascinating that if you've ever watched batting practice and you know the screens that have been for the first they spent their days and think of is to protect the infielders while they're taking batting practice. dixie walker who once one of the
people instrumental in the petition against jackie robinson, he actually invented that in cuba. i just stumbled across it reading the "new york times" stories, something i'd never heard of at all. he and his demagoguery and could store where they lived and one of, what of his teammates got hit with a ball during batting practice, and he decided to fashion this thing, this net held in a frame to protect them. and there's a quote from leo in the new york times article from 1947 in cuba visit this is fantastic, you'll see this used in baseball from now on. and he was right but i'd never realized that after i thought those in need of detail that did happen during the spring training site included that in the book. this was a surprising but certainly was striking, the way newspapers at the time dealt with race and ethnicity. i kept running into these
references. for example, sal played in cuba at the time when he made his major-league debut in 19461 of the new york papers refer to them as the giants played his spaghetti curveball vendor. you would see in cuban players were quoted phonetically, not just in the white press but also even in the black press that covered, that was covering, that was embedded with jackie robinson in the cuban sprinkling. another example even in the cuban newspapers, i kept finding one of the teams in their being referred to as the oilers. and i thought that's odd because they are the elephants was 15 again. in havana hardball to explain
what other broadcasters had dubbed them, called them a term used in cuba for white men who like black women. and the phrase struck but it was actually used in the newspapers. in fact, i hardly found in 47 without any references to them as the elephants. they were almost always called the oilers. i can't find the sort of references both in newspapers the newest and in cuba. and i said i'm not surprised that race was dealt with that within but when you see those repeatedly, like when they became the first cuban born players in the majors in 1911 of the modern era, newspapers rushed to assure baseball fans that they were not black. so you just, i kept finding of references over and over again. very striking.
>> what's next? >> well, as far as it is, no, but someone asked earlier, i am, i already started writing, interviewing for hopefully the next book which is on the final days of her facial baseball in cuba. [inaudible] >> gosh, i hope so. >> are there any women's league's? >> for professional during the world war ii when they had the american women's professional league, they professional league, the editing advance and cuban players in the league as well. [inaudible] >> i don't know specifically toward cuba but i found photos of cuban players from that
league, and cuban teams that played also during that league. 's. we all know editors make choose between your children, so what's not in the book? what hit the floor that you would love to have put in their that we are not going to get intel the second book? >> oh, gosh, i mean, since i focused so much, i was so narrowly focused on this era i pretty much try to empty the notebook on this. i couldn't come although it allowed me the chance to go back and do some act story conscious by the people involved, certainly i wasn't able to go as in depth on stuff before 1947. but no, i tried to stick in as much as i could.
yes? >> how long did it take for you to write this? i may have missed it earlier, i apologize. >> the writing part probably a little over a year and have and i basically just forced myself from 9 p.m. to midnight every night to try to write it. i tried to write a chapter a month and i pretty much stuck to that. there were times when i took a month to just do research or to just do, read the chapters i have already written to kind of just make sure everything was all right. but about a year and a of actual writing. and surprise lake about a year and half of editing and proofing and all that, that part of the. i didn't expect it to someone once told it takes about three years and it ended up being about right from start to finish. >> i know this is nonfiction.
did you have to embellish it a little bit some stories. was not at all. i found plenty of colorful stories just to come with a newspaper articles or in books on the topic. i mentioned before the ernest hemingway thing that there was a character, a guy from the dodgers who also was on one of the previous spring training trips. just for example, can't in a hotel by two in by one of the women's husbands. and he had to get it out of the country as quickly as possible. there was no need to embellish anything. and wesley of good material to work with. -- there was plenty of good to go to work with. even the conclusion of the cuban
league, one of the pitchers had to pitch on one days rest, which you never see that happening here except with the giants may be last year. but he started the first game and then another picture pitched into and he pitched 13. pregames three days. >> whether commissioners with the league's? >> guest. with the cuban league you mean? i mean, they were just, they're not the same kind of characters i don't think that you would see here. i mean, the commissioner, i don't much more with happy chandler because of the impact he had -- i dealt with -- in terms of the cuban league being a rogue league and before him land is basically not hearing any of the attempt, ma not wanting to deal with any of the
attemptattempt by the black preo try to push decoration. but no, i didn't really deal with too much with the cuban league commissioner i don't think they, they certainly were not the characters that you see with the major league guys come and the impact certainly. >> actually with the last comment, how has cuba responded? have they responded to remarks of your book? any outpouring, outcry, feedback? >> i haven't heard anything yet. it's not a political book so i don't know, and you know, even though in cuba they got rid of professionalism in baseball, it's basically an amateur league now since the revolution. i think that the country has always hung onto its baseball pass to even the professional baseball past. so i can imagine that there
would be anything controversial in that for them. but i have not heard anything, no. >> that might seem puzzled the oddball, but was their tobacco use in the league like there was your? >> i am sure there was. i didn't see anything specific about that but that was pretty much common in baseball, especially with all of the american players going over there. [inaudible] >> quite a few. max linear was one of the key players, one of the key pictures, and he was in my circulation area when i was at a small newspaper in ocala, florida, and so i talked to him several times over the years. don newcombe was terrific. i talked to him over the phone back in 97 with great detail
about jackie robinson spring training. and also sam lacy was right for the baltimore african-american that he was embedded with robinson and the other players at spring training. .com back in 1997 and called him on the phone and he was at that point in his 80s and he was just tack sharp with his recollection of everything that happened. so there were quite a few great interviews. spin have you built up some relationships with those people speak with almost all of them, unfortunately, has passed away at this point. don newcombe is only one of the main people that i interviewed that is still around, and ramirez who is the spanish-language broadcaster. but other than that they've all passed away. we are talking right after world war ii, so they would be in their late '90s. and i think don newcombe is in
his early '90s at this point. >> this is a little bit out of the book, but you would probably know. do you explain why cuba and baseball are so interlocked? i mean, it's been, what, 70 years of tremendous interest in baseball, even now. >> it goes back, cuba was introduced, i mean baseball was introduced into cuba back in the 1860s by the sons of wealthy families who came here to study and then brought the game back there. i think as i mentioned before, that it was so interlocked with the fight for independence against spain. i think that was one of the main things that sort of ingrained it in the culture in a way choosing
baseball over, say, bullfighting or any of the spanish sports wag or any of the spanish sports was a way, unde another way of reben against the spanish crown. i think that's really what it became so ingrained in the culture that it was a rejection of all things spain. and an embrace of the united states in a way. anyone else? are right. well, if there is no other questions i just want to thank you all for coming. if you want to buy a book i will be glad to sign them. thank you. appreciate it. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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but to be is covered many of these candidates. you can watch them on our website, book tv.org. good morning, thanks for coming out on this gloomy halloween day. it is my privilege to introduce to the distinguished historian, writer, and lecture doctor bella. she has taught history in many years she lectures widely and has been a consultant for the u.s. state department. her first book book was published by lsu press where i work, is chosen as one of the best books of the years by the new york times book review which praised her spectacular job of expediting her historical record. it also received a coveted review from