Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, and more. This month we’re saying Happy First Birthday to Last Seasons in Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba (Nebraska, 2019) by César Brioso.
About the Book:
Last Seasons in Havana explores the intersection between Cuba and America’s pastime from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, when Fidel Castro overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. César Brioso takes the reader through the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and its impact on professional baseball in the seasons immediately following Castro’s rise to power.
Baseball in pre‑Castro Cuba was enjoying a golden age. The Cuban League, which had been founded in 1878, just two years after the formation of the National League, was thriving under the auspices of organized baseball. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, players from the Major Leagues, Minor Leagues, and Negro Leagues had come to Cuba to play in the country’s wholly integrated winter baseball league. Cuban teams had come to dominate the annual Caribbean Series tournament, and Havana had joined the highest levels of Minor League Baseball, fielding the Havana Sugar Kings of the Class AAA International League. Confidence was high that Havana might one day have a Major League team of its own.
But professional baseball became one of the many victims of Castro’s Communist revolution. American players stopped participating in the Cuban League, and Cuban teams moved to an amateur, state‑sponsored model. Focusing on the final three seasons of the Cuban League (1958–61) and the final two seasons of the Havana Sugar Kings (1959–60), Last Seasons in Havana explores how Castro’s rise to power forever altered Cuba and the course of a sport that had become ingrained in the island’s culture over the course of almost a century.
“Last Seasons in Havana is a much-needed addition to baseball history… The complete history of Cuban baseball may never be known, but Brioso has cracked open the door with some valuable information and insights.”—Sports in American History
“The book is an absolutely fascinating read, chronicling how the revolution brought an end to professional baseball in Cuba—but never dampened the passion of the Cuban people for the game they dearly love… The book is filled with unforgettable characters and anecdotes, and we barely skimmed the surface in our talk—so that means, you gotta read the book!” —So Important!
“The details in which both subjects are presented, especially the revolution and Castro’s subsequent takeover, shows the depth of research done by Brioso… Baseball fans and history fans alike will enjoy this book as both topics are covered with good detail and good stories.”—The Guy Who Reviews Sports Books
“Focusing on the final three seasons of the Cuban League (1958–61) and the final two seasons of the Havana Sugar Kings (1959–60), Last Seasons in Havana explores how Castro’s rise to power forever altered Cuba and the course of a sport that had become ingrained in the island’s culture over the course of almost a century.”—Brooklyn Fans / Brooklyn Digest
Featured on Tom Hoffarth’s Farther Off the Wall.
A Word from the Author:
I almost never used the calendar on my cellphone—until my book came out a year ago.
In the year since Last Seasons in Havana: The Castro Revolution and the End of Professional Baseball in Cuba was published, that calendar has been the only way I’ve been able to keep up with and organize all the book signing events and interview requests.
It all began with a terrific book launch at Politics & Prose in Washington D.C. on March 1, 2019. We had a big crowd, a lively Q&A with the audience and sold 17 of the 30 books on hand.
Politics & Prose became an ongoing partner in promoting Last Seasons in Havana. The popular independent D.C. bookstore handled sales for an April event hosted by USA Today’s editor-in-chief at her home for me and a few of my work colleagues who had recently published books.
And Politics & Prose invited me to participate in the National Press Club’s 42nd Annual Book Fair and Author Night, a fantastic event in November that included more than 100 authors.
Along the way, there have been book signings from Jersey City, New Jersey to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; from Richmond, Virginia to Coral Gables, Florida, where Books & Books hosted a great South Florida book launch. Not to mention multiple radio and podcast interviews each month in 2019 and several positive reviews throughout the year.
It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s also been a lot of fun!