Those Crazy Communists

On this date in 1953 Fidel Castro’s July 26th Movement began, and the result was the complete overthrow of the U.S.backed authoritarian government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista on January 1st, 1959.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, broadcasting on Havana television.

But, what it caused sports wise was the only documented baseball game (majors or minors) to be “called” because of celebratory gunfire.

An International League game between the Rochester Red Wings and the Havana Sugar Kings in Havana at El Gran Estadio del Cerro came to an abrupt end on July 25th 1959 because of gunfire. At the stroke of midnight with the score tied in the 12th inning fans began shooting their guns in to the air to celebrate the “July 26th Movement” that took place 6 years earlier.

Sugar Kings’ Shortstop Leo Cardenas and Rochester third base coach Frank Verdi both suffered flesh wounds (Verdi’s on his head, a plastic liner inside his cap probably saved his life) in the celebration, Rochester manager Cot Deal pulls his team from the field for safety purposes and the game was called. Both Deal and General Manager George Sisler Jr.stand firm and decide to head home rather than finish the game as part of a double-header the following day.

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Havana Sugar Kings

The Sugar Kings an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds at the time had been in the International  League since 1954, and as relationship strained to a breaking point  between the U.S, and the Castro regime, the franchise was moved to Jersey City, New Jersey in 1960 mid-season.


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