There were too many sidebars to yesterday’s game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team for me to include them all in my piece today on the rich history of Tampa/Havana beisbol. But I’m happy to add what a treat it was to see one of my all-Time favorites, Luis Tiant, throw out the first pitch in what was an entertaining, but, regardless of what overheated reporters have said all week, not a historic game.
El Tiante, now 75 and looking good in his guayabera shirt and BoSox cap, did not use the twisty delivery that confused so many hitters back in the day. It’s said of Louie that if you attended a game that he started, no matter where you sat, sometime during the game and during his delivery he would be looking right at you. Those fortunate enough to have seen Louie at work have no doubt that this is true. Hitters must have had a devil of a time picking up his release point. Which I guess is the point of having a delivery that looks like an amusement park ride. Long live Louie.
An Oddity of Obama’s big photo-op week is that in all of the thousands of column inches the Tampa media devoted to Tuesday’s game and the week’s political theater, there was no mention of the rich Tampa/Havana baseball history. This is because (1) no one in the local media is old enough to remember it, and (2) Tampa is now such a non-place, where people from elsewhere come to work and live, there is very little institutional memory. Around here the nineties are ancient history.