By Kiara Gonzalez Escobar
This 2022 closes with a debt settled for Cuban baseball because on the morning of Tuesday, December 27, a transcendental event took place at the Línea y H park in the capital’s Vedado district.
Precisely in that place, from now on there will be two monuments in honor of great figures of Cuban baseball.
Decisive was the role played by the “Béisbol de Siempre” project as a precursor and initial promoter of what was finally achieved today. The leading role played by the city of Mobile, Alabama and the Heritage Office as executors, plus the essential contribution of people like María Conchita Méndez and Miguel Fraga, must be highlighted.
All of them together with other important components in this process made possible the establishment of a historical marker that pays tribute to the first Cubans who practiced baseball and then took it to Havana from the port city of Mobile.
It was brothers Ernesto and Nemesio Guillot, along with Enrique Porto, who learned the game at Spring Hill College and in 1864 brought the first sports equipment to practice in what was formerly known as Miguel’s baths (area between the El Carmelo Church and the José Antonio Echevarría Center).
The marker is in Spanish on one side and English on the other, accompanied by the Mobile and Havana coats of arms.
It is made of aluminum and is 42 inches high and 30 inches long. The cities of Mobile and Havana are twinned by Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville, founder of Mobile who spent his last days in the Cuban capital. There is a bronze statue of him at the exit of the Havana tunnel looking exactly towards Mobile, where the same statue is with its eyes set on Cuba.
In addition to this marker, the bronze image of the baseball player and patriot Emilio Sabourín was restored and relocated. After having been since 1953 in the back and not very visible area of the “Maternidad de Línea” hospital, it is now in the aforementioned park in full view of everyone.
This is the way it should have always been, so that the hundreds of people who pass through that area every day understand the importance of this Cuban baseball star in the 19th century. A man who died in a prison in Africa in the arms of Juan Gualberto Gomez for being part of the Cuban independence movement.
It is the first time that a marker recognizing some kind of link in baseball between Cuba and the United States has been set on the island. A connection so important that from there began a path full of events and legendary men.