teach the soviets baseball

October 10, 1962

I am very impressed with how hard and fast our Soviet comrades are working. If the cloud cover hangs in, and we get a storm or two, the high-flying U-2s won’t be able to photograph the missile sites. It is quite amazing, really: these blond, blue-eyed, thick-necked guys are really putting out. We Cubans can learn from these guys.

Someone asked me the other day if we shouldn’t teach the Soviets baseball—which is our religion, or as close to a religion as we have on this island, since most people, even people like me who went to a Jesuit school, are not religious at all. (A lot of the counterrevolutionary worms seem to be seriously Catholic, however.) So, just to see what would happen, we invited some of the Soviet supervisors to play ball with us in a lunchtime scrub game. We even had a couple of interpreters playing, so that the language barrier wouldn’t be as big a problem.

You would not believe what happened. I was pitching—I used to be pretty good, and had a chance to play in the U.S. minor leagues, with the Giants—and I threw my friend, Alejandro Alekseev, the ambassador, my big roundhouse curve ball. What did Alejandro do? Hah! He ducked, he screamed “don’t kill me Fidel with this baseball missile,” and then he hit the dirt, as the ball curved over the middle of home plate and into the catcher’s mitt for strike one. I yelled, “strike one, big guy,” and Alejandro shouted at me, “no preemptive strikes against my head, Fidel.” I laughed so hard I had to take a break. I let Che pitch. Che is terrible, since he grew up in Argentina, where they don’t play baseball. He is a good golfer, however—something he keeps secret, since golf is a favorite game of the counterrevolutionary worms. We had to remove Che, however, because he walked Russian who batted.

It looks like a marriage made in heaven, or wherever marriages are made for Marxist-Leninists: the Soviets will teach us all about missiles and nuclear warheads. And we will teach the Soviets all about baseball. Some are very strong and would make good power hitting first basemen, or maybe catchers. I mean: if we survive this crisis, which seems doubtful at the moment, but you never know.