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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bill Murray’s Base­ball Hall of Fame Speech (and Hideous Sports Coat)

The Grate­ful Dead Rock the Nation­al Anthem at Can­dle­stick Park: Open­ing Day, 1993

Free: Watch Jack­ie Robin­son Star in The Jack­ie Robin­son Sto­ry (1950)

Lou Gehrig, Yan­kee Leg­end, Stars in 1938 West­ern Rawhide

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.