June 16, 2019

Cuba Ball Fundraiser

September 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Kit and Bob Krieger are Cubaballistas. The designation is reserved for those intrepid travelers and baseball aficionados who have visited Cuba on one of the 18 annual baseball tours organized by the Krieger brothers since 2001.

Tour participants attend games of the Cuban National Series, whose graduates include Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Jose Contreras, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Alexei Ramirez, Yeonnis Cespedes and Kendrys Morales. They visit baseball academies where Cuba develops its baseball talent, meet with old-timers, including the handful of Cubans who played professional baseball in the US prior to the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Until his death in 2014, Cubaballistas visited Conrado “Connie” Marrero, the former Washington Senator whose nearly 103 years is second only to Red Hoff among former big leaguers. Cubaball donates baseball equipment to baseball academies and National Series teams.

On the first trip, the Cubaballistas discovered the grave of Martin Dihigo, the  Negro League legend and member of five Halls of Fame, who is considered the greatest all-around player in baseball history. They visit his grave each year and meet with his oldest son, Martin Jr., who played in the Reds organization with Pete Rose and Tony Perez.

Over the years, the Cubaballistas have worked to provide much needed support to their Cuban friends, including Luiz Zayas. Zayas, 81, is the last surviving member of the fabled Havana Sugar Kings residing in Cuba. They also help two of Cuba’s leading baseball writers who speak to the group each year.

Connie Marrero sandwiched between Clem–Cubaball tour leader, and Kit, tour founder

You can make a contribution to this worthwhile cause and win one of three prizes offered by the Kriegers: a box of Cohiba Robusto cigars, the Cuban National team jersey give to Connie Marrero on the occasion of his 99th birthday (it has #99 and Marero’s name on the back, and an original baseball-themed cartoon by Bob Krieger, who was the editorial page and Sports cartoonist for the Vancouver Province for more than three decades.

Sample of Bob Krieger's Cubaball drawings

A sample of Bob Krieger’s drawings

The Krieger brothers are hoping to raise $2,500. If they exceed this goal, the remaining funds will be directed toward the restoration of a monument erected in Havana’s Cristobal Colon cemetery in 1942 by the Christian Association of Players Managers and Umpires. Cuban baseball historians have located the gravesites of 150 Cuban players, including Adolfo Luque, Miguel Angel Gonzales and Hall of Famer, Jose Mendez. In the crypt of the monument, the Cubans discovered an ossuary containing what are believed to be the remains of Cristobal Torriente, the Negro League slugger and member of Halls of Fame in Cooperstown, Kansas City and Cuba. Tests are being carried out in an attempt to confirm that the remains are those of Torriente.

You can make a contribution the these worthwhile causes through PayPal at ejkrieger@shaw.ca. Entries in the draw are $25 each or five for $100. The draw will be made in early October when the Krieger boys return from their 2018 tour.

Editors Note: As someone proud to be called a “Cubaballista,” I urge your consideration for this fundraiser. More, or at least as important, I urge you to email Kit using the address above and ask about the next tour. The Cuban baseball economy has suffered from the Trump administration’s new hostility toward all things Cuban. The tour is a wonderful experience and one you are not likely to find an equivalent for. My wife, who is not a baseball fan and went on the tour expressing considerable trepidation, remembers it as one of those great life experiences, one of those things you don’t find anywhere else, unico y maravilloso. –Ted Leavengood

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