CUBA BASEBALL: National Team Draws Local Fans

At Principal Park, a group of Iowans was given a rare opportunity – an exhibition game between Team USA and the national team from Cuba.

It’s a connection that’s difficult to maintain and visitors are sometimes few and far between, “It’s been 47 years,” says Justin Calzada.

So this is a pleasant surprise, “I already got a signature, too, and a picture!” Calzada’s daughter-in-law, Hanny shouts.

One worth a special trip, “The pitcher right there,” points Roberto Castaneda of Norwalk, “he grew up in the same town that I did.”

Even for proud Americans, it’s worth changing sides.

“Of course I’ve gotta root for my country!” Castaneda says.

They’ve even got cheers for the one player – defector, Misael Siverio – who wasn’t there Thursday night.

“I absolutely think he made the right decision,” says Linda Brennan of Des Moines, whose father immigrated from Cuba, “and I hope he makes it to the Majors.”

After all, some have their own stories of defection.

“I escaped through Guantanamo,” Justin Calzada says, “I swam across.”

But this isn’t about why they left Cuba…

“Cuba! Cuba! Ra-ra-rah!”

It’s all about why they came to reconnect.

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