This week’s Major League Baseball (MLB) goodwill tour marks the MLB’s first visit to the island since the Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition game against the Cuban National Team in 1999.
The goodwill tour, which will take place between December 15th-18th, includes MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark and Hall of Famers Joe Torre (Chief Baseball Officer, MLB) and Dave Winfield (Special Advisor to the Executive Director, MLBPA). Participating active players selected by the MLBPA include Cuban-born Major Leaguers Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, Brayan Peña of the St. Louis Cardinals, Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers and free agent shortstop Alexei Ramirez, as well as three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, two-time American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, four-time AL All-Star Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners and 2011 World Series Champion Jon Jay, now of the San Diego Padres.
The tour will consist of an opening press conference at Hotel Nacional, featuring Clark, Torre, Winfield and the participating players; children’s clinics at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana and Estadio Victoria de Giron in Matanzas; and the charity event in conjunction with Caritas Cubana.
The MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), through the Major League Baseball Players Trust (www.PlayersTrust.org), jointly announced that they will provide a $200,000 grant to Caritas Cubana, the U.S.-based, non-governmental provider of humanitarian, social and emergency services to Cuba, in recognition of this week’s goodwill tour arranged by MLB and the MLBPA.
Caritas Cubana focuses on assisting Cuba’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, children, single mothers, people with disabilities and people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to conducting programs for these populations, Caritas Cubana distributes medicines and provides emergency relief as needed. To highlight MLB’s and the Players Trust’s support of Caritas Cubana, the players will visit with the non-profit as part of their tour.
According to a report in the New York Times, the MLB wanted to conduct a 2016 spring training game in Havana. It sought the consent of the union, which proposed the idea of a good-will trip as a first step. That led to the issue of whether Cuban players could participate. The MLB emphasized that they needed Cuban major leaguers to be part of the trip, without restrictions.