The Quality of Home Runs

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The Quality of Home Runs:
The Passion, Politics, and Language of Cuban Baseball

Thomas F. Carter
2009, Duke University Press
239 pages

CHE GUEVARA was not a good baseball player but, as a dutiful compañero, he would join other Cuban guerrilla leaders in exhibition games in the early days of Fidel Castro’s revolution when its future survival was not guaranteed to assert that, although not Cuban by birth, he was Cuban by temperament. Thomas Carter reveals in this fascinating examination of the relationship between baseball and Cuban identity that it is not clear when the lionised Che first swapped his rifle for a baseball bat, with some accounts implausibly even suggesting he learned how to play the game in the Sierra Maestra in between fighting the Batista regime. Carter says that Che himself confessed to a reporter in Havana after an exhibition game in 1964 that “this is the first time I have practised this discipline”. The bearded revolutionary’s participation in the game, however, says much about the role of baseball in Cuban identity politics and efforts by the revolutionary leaders to use the pitch in order to solidify their social standing. The Quality of Home Runs explores the unique relationship between Cuba and baseball, tracing the history of the game on the island and such key themes as the role of the state in its evolution. The author, an anthropologist, teases out narrative practices found within baseball to provide insights into how the game both at home and abroad informs what it means to be Cuban. A labour of love written, it would appear, despite the political sensitivity of the game on the island and its own inner politics, The Quality of Home Runs uses baseball as a tool with which to provide an engaging and interesting perspective on Cuban identity. – GO’T

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