November 26, the entire island received the news of the passing of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, with great sadness. Tributes from the nation’s sporting community in recognition of his unconditional support to the movement immediately started to arrive.
One such came from Cocodrilos de Matanzas manager, Víctor Mesa, a man for which Fidel expressed great affection. “I was by his side for a long time and now I feel sad, very sad, its one of the hardest pieces of news we have received in recent years, I’m sure that it hit every member of Cuba’s sporting family very hard,” stated Villa Clara’s former star central fielder.
“The guys were crying on the bus on the way back to Matanzas, we all felt really down. I had to stand up and encourage them to keep going; which we can do by putting on our best show for the public, playing better baseball and always defending Cuba in every scenario,” stated the number 32 jersey, somewhat emotional.
Roger Machado, Tigres de Ciego de Ávila manager, shared a similar opinion. “We were in the hotel last night (November 25) after the game against Villa Clara in the Cepero stadium. The news came as a hard blow. Fidel was 90, but we were still surprised, the whole team gathered at around midnight to listen to Raúl speak, it was very powerful,” he noted.
“We have lost one of the most influential leaders of the world and 20th century, but now we’ve got to carry on, continue to uphold his ideas, his principles, and always remember every lesson,” stated the Ciego de Ávila coach.
Meanwhile, pitcher Oscar Gil, remembered as one of the heroes of the only Holguín team to have won a National Series Holguín, and current squad coach, described the news as shocking.
“Our team had ended a bad run of many losses with two consecutive wins, but that Saturday morning when we came together, we all felt defeated, sore, we could barely speak. It was something no one was prepared for; we thought that Fidel was eternal, but he will always be with us in a certain kind of way,” stated Gil.