On Tuesday, the Rays officially announced that they would be traveling to Cuba to play an exhibtion game against the country's national team on March 22. Kevin Kiermaier and his dashing good looks should be there, the great Alfredo Despaigne will hopefully be among Cuba's outfielders and President Barack Obama, a baseball fan from day one, has decided to grace Estadio Latinoamericano with his presence.
Play ball! https://t.co/S4DhVYa4Ef— President Obama (@POTUS) March 2, 2016
The game marks the first time since 1999 that an MLB team has played a game on the island. The Orioles beat the Cuban National Team, 3-2, in 11 innings on March 28 of that year. Scott Erickson dueled with a young Jose Contreras (who struck out 10 over eight shutout innings), Harold Baines hit the game-winning single and, according to former Washington Post writer/current MLB.com columnist Richard Justice, Albert Belle slammed his helmet in frustration on more than one occasion.
Here are some cool images from the game -- also played at the now 70-year-old Estadio Latinoamericano.
Will Clark, who scored the winning run on the Baines' single in the 11th, steps into a pitch.
Erickson throws a strike by Cuba's Andy Morales -- an infielder who later defected and played in the Minors for both the Red Sox and Yankees.
Eager fans (and two mustachioed heroes) look on as the game remains tied into the later innings.
A full shot of the 55,000-seat Estadio Latinoamericano, which has also hosted boxing matches, dance competitions and political demonstrations.
All-Star Charles Johnson, who hit a two-run homer in the game, tags out Jose Estrada at the plate.
Close-up of Cuba manager Alfonso Urquiola -- who starred as a player and manager in many international competitions.
End-of-game handshakes after an exciting affair. Cuba would travel to Baltimore to complete the two-game series on May 3 -- defeating the O's 12-6.