Remember the Sugar Kings (1954-60)

It was one of my late father’s favorite topics.  He’d loved talking about Almendares of the winter league and the AAA Sugar Kings!

He always reminded my mother that he cheered for Almendares and she followed La Habana.   Yes, my parents spent a lot of their younger days listening to baseball on the radio. He would hear the Almendares games in Sagua La Grande. She would listen La Habana’s games in Ciego De Avila.   They were both very passionate fans so those courtship baseball conversations must have been fabulous.

Once upon a time, there was a team in Cuba: The Havana Sugar Kings of the AAA International League.

Back in April 1954,  25,000 fans showed up to watch the Sugar Kings battle the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening game of the International League season. (Montreal was another team in that league)   Future major leaguers like Leo Cardenas, Mike Cuellar and Cookie Rojas played in those Havana teams.

In the late 1950’s, as the owners were seriously looking at expansion, there was a lot of talk about putting a major league team in Havana. Instead, the Sugar Kings were moved to Jersey City in July 1960.    The political situation changed and “beisbol se fue de Cuba”.

As my late father used to remind me:  The owners would have never considered putting a major league team in an underdeveloped country.      My father was right again!

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