Play Ball Cuba!

Baseball is the national passion of Cuba. Unfortunately the youngsters in the ghettos and the mountains of Cuba cannot afford the equipment necessary to play the sport properly and safely.

What do the kids in the Caribbean need?
They need baseballs, bats, and gloves. There are many underprivileged kids who are now using gourds, sticks, and their bare hands to play the game. Basic equipment such as a batting helmet is a luxury they cannot afford.

What do we do about the problem?
I go around to thrift stores and garage sales and purchase used baseball equipment. I restitch, repair, and recondition all salvageable gloves.

How do we get the gloves to the kids?
I stuff as many bats, balls, and gloves as I can into a large suitcase and take them to Santiago de Cuba. There, as I have done three times in the last year and a half, I meet with Víctor Castellanos, a representative from the Casa del Caribe who puts me in contact with the coaches and kids in the remote areas of the Sierra Maestra.

Why baseball?
Because baseball is the national pastime in America and it is the national passion in Cuba. Both countries treasure the sport. Baseball was brought to the island in the 1870s by Ernesto Guilló, a native Cuban who encountered the game while working in Mobile, Alabama. In the tropical climate of Cuba, the sport thrived. Cuban players in the fifties and sixties like Minnie Miñoso and Luis Tiant battled racism and international politics to become accomplished major leaguers in the United States. Today stars like Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman are the benefactors of these early pioneers and at the moment Major League Baseball is lusting for talent in the Carribean. I seriously doubt if any of the “peloteritos” (little baseball players) in the Sierra Maestra will ever make it to “the show” so….

Why is this project important?
Because it makes underprivileged youngsters happy and more secure. It gives them a feeling of self worth, knowing that somebody far, far away cares about them. Their smiles prove it !

What is the big picture?
¡Play Ball Cuba! is a humanitarian project intended to create a bond of friendship between the United States and Cuba that has recently been made possible by the easing of political tensions.

What’s next?
To bring baseball equipment (and good will) to kids in Mexico and Central America.

Donate now and be part of this amazing transformation between Cuba and the United States!

Mel Meeks
aka "Paco Martin"
"Guantes para Gigantes"