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Female Cuban players defect

Posted on Wednesday, 08.22.12

Female Cuban players defect

Four female baseball players from Cuba have defected from a team that

competed in the V World Cup of Female Baseball in Edmonton, Alberta.

By Jorge Ebro

jebro@elnuevoherald.com

When a couple of Cuban baseball players abandoned a juvenile team in

Edmonton, Alberta, in 2008, a furious Fidel Castro called Ron Hayter

from Havana to let him know how upset he was.

Hayter, executive director of the International Baseball Federation in

that Canadian city, said that the then-Cuban president really let him

have it with a barrage of insults.

This time, Castro, 86, did not know or simply did not care that four

Cuban female players made history by being the first to defect from a

female delegation in that sport as well as the largest group leaving a

baseball tournament in that city.

Muted response

At least, this time Hayter did not receive any calls associating him

with "the scum of the earth," as he recalled being referred to in that

previous call.

The four female players abandoned the Cuban team that competed in the V

World Cup of Female Baseball, where they hardly left an impact on the

field after losing eight games and winning only one. Yet they turned

into a subplot when three of the girls did not attend the closing

ceremony at Telus Field.

The first one to defect was Odreisleisis Pequero Del Sol, 21, who left

on Aug. 14 and later contacted members of the team to notify them that

she was with her boyfriend on the other side of the Canadian border,

where she had arrived thanks to a transit visa that had been approved

for a stop the team made in Chicago on its way up to Edmonton.

Born in the Cuban city of Ciego de Avila, Pequero — considered one of

the team leaders — played only on Aug. 12, when she was 1 for 2 in the

humiliating 12-4 defeat against Australia.

The daily newspaper Edmonton Journal later confirmed that three other

players had abandoned the Cuban delegation.

"We have always tried to encourage people not to defect, but we can't

control them," Hayter told the newspaper. "We make it clear to all

participating teams that we offer room and board and all other expenses,

but we cannot individually control each person. As the [event]

organizers, we would prefer that no one would stay. But we can't be

blamed when it happens."

Beyond the issue of defections, the Cuban team, managed by the

well-known second baseman of the Cuban Industriales team, Juan Padilla,

went back to its country after a poor demonstration that rendered only

one win (13-5) against the Netherlands. Japan successfully defended its

World Cup title, the United States secured the silver and Canada took

the bronze.

In July 2008, Cuban baseball players Noel Argüelles and José Iglesias

abandoned the team that was competing in the also juvenile World Cup,

held also in Edmonton. Argüelles, a pitcher, was signed by Kansas City

Royals for $7 million, and Iglesias, an infielder, was signed by the

Boston Red Sox for $8.2 million.

Taken by surprise

Yet while defections from male teams had become something "normal" in

the past few decades, the female players' defection surprised everybody.

"If they change their minds here and decide to abandon the team, it's

their country's problem," Hayter told the Canadian press. "We cannot

lock them up in their rooms."

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/22/2963932/female-cuban-players-defect.html

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