Major League Baseball and the MLBPA officially announced an exhibition game in Cuba in a release on Tuesday. U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to be in attendance during his upcoming visit to Cuba.
Obama will be the first sitting American president to visit Cuba in 88 years.
“Americans and Cubans share a love of baseball, and this is yet another powerful reminder of the kinship between our peoples as well as the progress we can achieve when we leverage those natural ties,” a White House official said Tuesday.
It will be the first visit to Cuba by an MLB team since the Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition game there against the Cuban National Team in 1999.
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in the release that his team was “privileged” to visit the country on what would be a “memorable and significant” trip, a sentiment echoed by league commissioner Rob Manfred.
“Major League Baseball is excited to play in Cuba and to have the Tampa Bay Rays representing our 30 Clubs,” Manfred said. “During a time of historic change, we appreciate the constructive role afforded by our shared passion for the game, and we look forward to experiencing Cuba’s storied baseball tradition and the passion of its many loyal fans.”
“We’re excited to be part of this trip. For us, it’s about spreading goodwill through baseball,” Matt Silverman, the Rays’ president of baseball operations, said on a conference call. “We’re excited for the opportunity and to experience firsthand the baseball culture of Cuba.
US President Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba faces a major obstacle in that Congress controls much of the regulations and restrictions pertaining to Cuba. As a workaround, Obama has embarked on steady, slow drum beat of actions taken to leverage executive authority to dismantle various Congressional rules that together make up the US embargo against Cuba.
The Cuba Journal refer to these actions as Cubamacare.