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Female Cuban baseball player missing from Edmonton tournament

Female Cuban baseball player missing from Edmonton tournament

No one will comment if the unidentified player has defected

By Marty Klinkenberg, Edmonton Journal August 15, 2012

EDMONTON – The last time a baseball player defected in Edmonton, Ron

Hayter got blasted by Fidel Castro.

The chairman of the Edmonton International Baseball Federation, Hayter

was held responsible by the Cuban leader after three players from his

national team went missing in 2008 during the World Junior AAA


El Presidente was so angry he called Hayter from Havana, tracking him

down at Telus Field.

"He was hostile," Hayter said Tuesday as news spread about a possible

defection here at the World Cup of Women's Baseball. "He spoke enough

English so that you knew exactly what he meant.

"He said, 'Ron, you are the scum of the Earth."'

On Tuesday morning, officials with the International Baseball Federation

called Edmonton police after discovering a Cuban player had vanished

overnight from Lister Hall, a residence at the University of Alberta

where the eight teams competing in the World Cup are staying.

Scott Pattison, a police spokesman, said the athlete is not formally

listed as missing because she is in the country legally and may have

left on her own accord. She has not approached police seeking asylum and

is not the subject of a search, Pattison said.

The identity of the player has not been released. Officials from the

Cuban team have been unavailable for comment.

Hayter, a former Edmonton city councillor, said he has not officially

been notified a defection occurred, but said it would not shock him.

Enamoured with playing in the big leagues, a handful of Cuban men have

defected in Edmonton over the years.

"The fact that this is a woman is what makes it different," Hayter said.

"That would be a first."

The Cuban team has lost all four of its games so far at the World Cup,

which has been held every other year since 2004. The Cubans were

scheduled to play Team USA on Tuesday before the contest was rained out,

a game rescheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at John Fry Park.

Volunteer drivers for the Cuban team said authorities did not act as if

anything out of the ordinary had occurred when they arrived to pick up

the team Tuesday morning. The leader of the delegation went from vehicle

to vehicle, taking a head count, but that is standard protocol for the

Cubans, who often lose top stars during international play.

In 2008, the Kansas City Royals signed pitcher Noel Arguelles to a

$7-million, five-year contract after he bolted from Cuba's junior team

in Edmonton.

While Hayter was surprised to receive a call from Castro that time, he

wasn't angered by the vitriol hurled in his direction.

"I said, 'Mr. President, I have no idea how they escaped, and we didn't

do anything at all to encourage it,'" Hayter said. "I told him not to

blame me, that we don't keep teams under lock and key."

Castro blamed him anyway.

"I remember it being a rather extended conversation and one that was

decidedly one-sided," Hayter said. "At the end, he hung up on me."

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