By José Alejandro Rodríguez Zas
Orestes Kindelán has been one of the best hitters Cuban baseball has ever produced. Regardless of whether or not he proved himself in the Major Leagues, if he is the best home run hitter in the history of the Antilles or if he is the ideal first baseman of the Cuban team of all times, his quality as a slugger is indisputable.
“El Tambor Mayor”, as the Santiago native is known in the baseball world, left impressive numbers during his time in the National Series. In 21 seasons, Kindelán accumulated a total of 487 home runs, absolute leader in that department in domestic classics, in 6,588 times at bat, with an impressive frequency of one home run every 13.56 official trips to the plate.
In addition, he compiled a .313 average in his career in Cuba and his slash line of .431/.600/.1031 (OBP/SLU/OPS) is one of the most impressive for any Cuban hitter, driving in 1,511 runs, a figure that places him as the greatest in Cuban baseball history. He won the Triple Crown in 1989, with 24 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .402 average, marks unsurpassed by the rest of the players in that campaign.
Today we bring you an excerpt from an interview with Orestes Kindelán on the program “Mi Beisbol” on Cuban Television, in which the Santiago-born slugger does not refer to his sporting career or his impressive numbers with the lumber, inside and outside the island, but offers his opinion on the current problems of Cuban baseball and possible solutions to them.
“According to the comments I have heard from many athletes, the affection, unity, love and desire of the athletes to go out to the field to fight for their baseball, to cheer up their baseball and sacrifice for their baseball has been lost,” Kindelán said.
“I think that all that has been lost, because there is nonconformity on the part of the athletes and very little sincerity on the part of many federators. That is a difficult blow and a very bad thing for our baseball to rise. As long as there are people who feel baseball from the mouth out and not inside their heart, our baseball will never again reach the place it has always wanted to have and that it has had years ago. These things must be analyzed now and we must step forward to draw conclusions soon.”
With Team Cuba, the “Drum Major” won the gold medal in multiple world championships, Olympic Games, Intercontinental Cups, Pan American and Central American Games, while with his team Santiago de Cuba, he won the national title four times.
After his retirement from active sports, he played several seasons in Japanese industrial baseball before managing his provincial team in the 57th edition of the National Series. He was inducted to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
“Talking about things that are wrong in baseball hurts me, because my life has been completely dedicated to it. To treat my baseball with so much affection and with so much love to now talk about so many bad things that I see every day, even though there are ways to solve them, is difficult. Our baseball, at this moment, is going through difficult times. The championships that used to be won are no longer being won,” Kindelán said in the aforementioned interview.
“There are many things going on, there is a lot of contrariness, they talk a lot with the athletes, but things are not going well at all. I hope that, soon, these problems will be solved, to give our people the joy of having a baseball like the one they have always seen, enjoyed and lived. The sooner this happens, the more joy we will have. We are going through difficult times, we need joy in some way and I believe that baseball, which is our national pastime, can bring joy. Baseball is something that people can watch a lot and to see athletes giving their all in the game, for their jersey and for their team, would be very good”.
“The measures in our baseball have to be taken quickly and we have to go to the bottom of things, to the mistakes we are making, because if we give it time and argue the problems, we will not get out of the rut, baseball will continue stalling in the place it currently is or go further down. The measures in our baseball have to be taken urgently, both in the athletes as well as in the federation. All of us who are involved in Cuban baseball must step forward and very soon, analyze things and tell the truth,” he concluded.