The path to playing Major League Baseball has historically not been clear or easy for Cubans.
That is particularly true for black Cuban players, who in the early 1900s were confined to the Negro Leagues in the United States while whites played on MLB teams.
Integration led to Minnie Minoso being the first black Cuban MLB player in 1949, but a decade later Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba and the subsequent breakdown in relations with the United States meant the league was no longer an option for players still inside Cuba unless they defected.
Castro’s politics and his decision to shut down professional teams in Cuba sent some of the great baseball players from two generations fleeing to the U.S.
First wave of players
The first wave included Hall of Fame first baseman Tony Perez, a seven-time All-Star who won two World Series with the Cincinnati Reds, as well as three-time all-star pitcher Luis Tiant and three-time World Series champion Oakland Athletics shortstop Bert Campaneris.
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