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Monday, April 30, 2018

Cuban Baseball Histories: The Eighties (Second Part)

Por Fidel Orihuela

The eighties were the golden years of Cuban baseball. Those were the times in which there were, both at the national championships and the national selection, great renown stars by their performance in former decades and a rising generation of new players that gave the island countless international titles. Antonio Munoz, Braudilio Vinent, Agustin Marquetti, Juan Castro, Pedro Medina and Rogelio Garcia crossed their paths with Orestes Kindelan, Antonio Pacheco, Omar Linares, Javier Mendez, Lazaro Vargas and Juan Padilla to make a dream team. They had all the athletic qualities to succeed in baseball and they combined these talents with dedication and commitment to the fans.

1986: Many have been the home runs in the National Series but not one has been as highlighted as Agustin Marquetti’s at the end of 1986’s championship. In a crowded Latinoamericano Stadium, and facing the pitcher Rogelio Garcia, Marquetti hit a homer to the right field stands and left Vegueros to be runner-up thus winning the first title for Industriales since 1973.

1987: In his second National Series with the Industriales team, the outfielder Javier Mendez got the MVP of the championship thanks to his offensive (.408 AVG). An ace in the batter’s box, the left handed player from Havana also showed his abilities in the defense of the center field, when he made the fans cry in excitement with his magnificent snags. Mendez career was an impressive one, an example of discipline and professionalism, although his opportunities to be in the National Selection were limited due to the existence of many good outfielders at the time. Javier retired as he started, winning the MVP award in 2003, his last year in the National Series.

1988: In the 27th National Series there were nine opportunities in which the same player hit three home runs. The most remarkable thing was that Orestes Kindelan, from the eastern part of the country, did it three out of the nine times. Others that unleashed their power three times but in just one game were Jose Cano (Vegueros), Pedro Medina and Juan Padilla, both from Industriales, Victor Munoz (Sancti Spiritus), Jorge Cruz (Holguin) and Luis Cuesta (Agropecuarios). In the case of Orestes Kindelan, he is the hitter with the biggest amount of home runs in our National Series, with 487 ones. He got the leadership in the eastern area of the country with 22 but he was surpassed in the total amount by Lazaro Junco, who has 25. In general, Kindelan got twice the leadership in home runs in the National Series, 17 in 1987 and 24 in 1989, although he had been the leader in previous years, like 1986 with Serranos team, with which he got 30 homers.

1989: Ibrahim Fuentes ended his career with a discreet AVG of. 259, but during 14 At Bats he could not be put out. Since January 17, 1989 to January 22, the player from Granma province chained 14 consecutive hits, a mark that it is still in vigor. Fuentes broke the previous record, in the hands of the player from Pinar del Rio, Lazaro Cabrera (10 consecutive hits). During his streak, he hit 5 homers, 2 doubles, one triple, six singles, got two walks and ten of his hits were with runners on base. His streak was broken when he hit a ground out to first base facing the pitcher from Santiago de Cuba Wilson Lopez on January 22.