Astros owner Crane has memorable Cuba visit

During historic game, President Obama extended invitation to meet Castro

Astros owner Crane has memorable Cuba visit

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros owner Jim Crane attended Tuesday's historic game in Havana between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, and he was introduced to Cuba President Raul Castro by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Crane was invited to the game by Major League Baseball and attended with minority ownership partner Raul Pedraza, a Cuban-American who is founder and CEO of Magno International, a Miami-based freight forwarding company.

Crane, who has played golf with Obama on several occasions, said he sent a note to the president prior to the Cuba trip telling him he would be in attendance, and Obama made a point to come and say hello. No sitting U.S. president had visited Cuba since Calvin Coolidge 88 years earlier.

Rays
Historic Cuba visit
Historic Cuba game filled with thrills
Manfred seeks relationship between MLB, Cuba
Varona first to play in Cuba after defecting
Cuba visit an emotional time for Archer
President Obama's gameday in Havana

Sights & sounds
MLB returns to Cuba
Santos' sliding catch
Obama greets Jeter
Rays shake hands with Obama
Kiermaier scores game's first run

"It was wonderful," Crane told MLB.com on Tuesday night. "The crowd was great. You know, I think [Obama] has done a great job [with Cuba], whether you like his politics or not. I think it was great for MLB to get that press and all of us to participate. They have some great ballplayers, and they deserve some attention."

Crane said he was with Yankees legend Derek Jeter when Obama called him over to meet Castro, and Obama came back down again and talked to him on his way out. Crane said he and Obama haven't played golf since last year.

"He's a guy that doesn't forget anything," Crane said. "I mean, the guy's unbelievable."

The Rays defeated the Cuban national team, 4-1, on Tuesday afternoon in front of a capacity crowd at the 55,000-seat stadium. Crane said he was thrilled to be part of such an historic game.

"It was fun to see," he said. "It was a great day, a great day for baseball and a great day for Cuba to get that moving in the right direction."

Crane traveled back to Florida following the game and will preside over an Astros ownership board meeting on Wednesday. Crane and several of the team's minority owners will attend Thursday's Astros game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.