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EMASS League Plays Goodwill Tourney in Cuba
Feb. 1, 2010 – Stuart GrayEMASS Does Cuba
By Stu Gray
Commissioner Eastern Massachusetts Senior Softball
The Eastern Massachusetts Senior Softball Association sent four teams to play a series of games against their Cuban counterparts in November.
This adventure in “Softball Diplomacy” was reported in with a Time magazine article saying that “…the 56 (Massachusetts) players who recently traveled to Cuba created more good will between the countries than anything else in the past 50 years.”
The athletes who embarked on the Cuba expedition returned with memories and experiences that far exceeded everyone’s anticipations and expectations. The trip was a multi-layered adventure of athletics, culture, history and togetherness. The softball competition with Cuban athletes proved to be as heart warming as it was competitive.
No one present at the opening ceremonies can deny being emotional or feeling chills as they stood along the foul lines (World Series style) and listened to the playing of the Cuban and the American national anthems.
At the conclusion of the competition, the players exchanged hugs as well as gifts. Many of our guys gave their baseball shoes, sneakers, bats, gloves, batting gloves, socks and even the shirts off their backs to their Cuban counterparts.
In return, the Cuban players gave meaningful, baseball related souvenirs to the EMASS players. This grass roots form of softball diplomacy was noted by the media ranging from locally televising one of the EMASS 70’s games to
Associated Press and CNN coverage.
On the field, the EMASS athletes held their own against the younger
slicker fielding Cubanos with the 60’s actually winning their best of
seven series 4 games to 2. The 63’s, 67’s (tied their series) and 70’s
did not fare as well but were competitive. By the end of each series, each of the teams came to know one another well as not only did they play on the field but they also lunched together off of the field.
Our EMASS men who participated in the trip did so because of their
love of the game as well as the lure and panache of Cuba and were
profoundly rewarded with one-of-a-kind memories for their boldness
and spirit of adventure.
We are planning additional trips to Cuba. Any league or team
interested should contact Stu Gray at: EMASS.Cuba@gmail.com.