Rare Video: Fidel Castro Plays Baseball (1959)

Baseball has the great capacity to transcend politics. People on the right love it. (Think George Will, the columnist who finds himself at the center of a hot controversy this week). The same holds true for folks on the left. One leftist with a deep and abiding love for baseball is Fidel Castro. Before he seized power in 1959, Castro spent some time on the diamond. Baseball-Reference.com tells us that Fidel likely “pitched in intramural competition in college for the University of Havana law school.” But “he was not good enough to pitch on the college’s varsity team.” Nor is the long-standing myth true that “Castro tried out for either the New York Yankees or Washington Senators and failed to impress enough to sign a contract.” He was never going to have a big league career. That’s for sure. But once Castro actually rose to power, no one was going to stop him from hitting or pitching in a 1959 charity game. (Watch above.) As they say, sometimes “it’s good to be the king.” Just ask Vladimir Putin, who recently scored 6 goals, and made 5 assists, in a hockey game

The 1959 clip above comes from British Pathé, which made an archive of 85,000 historical films available on YouTube in April. Don’t miss it.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.