The immortals of the future?

The Cuban National Baseball Hall of Fame after its revival and after 53 years without inductions seems it will be inclusive. No matter which path the big players have taken if they are Cuban and had an outstanding performance in the sport of balls and strikes, anywhere in the world.

During the ceremony of 2014 two players who did most of his career in the majors were immortalized, and that’s a good sign. Orestes Minoso and Camilo Pascual deserve for inclusion in their own right in such a selective list. Although, according to some sources, they have been denied invitations by the INDER to both Cubans to be in the ceremony held in the province of Granma.

At the gates they were names like Atanasio ‘Tany’ Perez and Luis Tiant (Jr). What is inconceivable is that these two players have figured in the list of the first selected period (1864-1961) when in fact they had their greatest achievements in the professional ball from the decade of 60. If the second stage is only the revolutionary baseball what about figures like Antonio Oliva, Orlando Hernandez and Jose Ariel Contreras?

I was casting my vote for sure for the first listing to Tony Perez. The illustrious player is the only Cuban who has played in Major League Baseball who is immortalized in Cooperstown. It is contradictory that the Cuban player is immortalized in the Hall of Fame of the United States since 2000, and has not been included in ours now. His numbers speak for themselves. He hit 379 home runs and won the World Series in 1975 and 1976 with the Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine. He was seven-time All-Star, and was voted MVP of this event in 1967. He scored 1261 runs and drove in 1652, and in the 1970s was the second player with more RBIs in the Majors with 954 only surpassed by fellow teammate, catcher Johnny Bench.

On the path of Antonio Oliva and Luis Tiant (Jr) I will not elaborate because we analyzed them already in a previous work.

The other notable absentee in this first vote, and highly contested by all, is Antonio Pacheco. The second baseman from Santiago de Cuba paid his toll for his recent decision to move in the United States. He could easily be in the first five to be inducted. Despite the constraints that existed in the vote regarding Pacheco (though without mentioning his name) he was the eleventh most voted, and came within a single vote of placing among the 10 finalists of the second stage.

The Captain of Captains is in the top ten in eleven statistics: eight offensive and three defensive ones. To make that even better he is eleventh in triples with 63 and average with 334. Only he and Orestes Kindelan joined the club of 2,000 hits, 1,300 RBIs and 3,700 total bases. Along Matanzas Fernando Sánchez they are the only players with 60 triples and 1,200 RBIs. Antonio Pacheco was the regular second baseman of Team Cuba for two decades. The legendary homer against the star Pedro Luis Lazo to decide a championship in the twilight of his career is enough to immortalize him. His induction cannot wait. Pacheco must be included in the second or third choice. If not, the nascent Hall of Fame will not be really taken into account.

Another that on merit will have to be chosen is Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. His record of 728 win-loss average (126-47) in Cuban baseball in the era of aluminum bat seems unbreakable. Extremely winning pitchers like Norge Luis Vera and José Ariel Contreras could not pass him. Also he spent in Cuba eight years with the team that won all international titles from the Olympic to the Central American and the Caribbeans, with three world championships and two Intercontinental Cups included.

To make matters worse El Duque got four rings of World Series, three consecutively with the Yankees in his first seasons in the MLB between 1998 and 2000 being the only foreign player to make such a feat, and one with the White Sox of Chicago in 2005.

It’s the best pitcher in frequency of strikeouts in nine-inning game in World Series with an astronomical 11.30 when he had 36 strikeouts in 28.2 innings. Besides his K / 9 in the MLB was 7.4 with 1086 strikeouts in 1314.2 innings. He was the first pitcher to win his first eight decisions in playoffs in the majors, where he accumulated 9 wins with 3 lost, ERA of 2.55 and 107 strikeouts in 106 innings.

Also José Ariel Contreras will be also included. His average of wins and losses in Cuba was of 701 (117-50), and pitched for an excellent 2.82. His last season in Cuba (2001-2002) was phenomenal with 13-4 and 1.76 ERA. Contreras went undefeated for six years with the Cuban team in international events at the highest political authorities of the country came to compare it to Antonio Maceo to foist the title of the Titan from Sandino.

In Major League Baseball he won 78-67 with 889 strikeouts in 1173 innings, averaging 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Contreras was the principal leader of the pitching that gave the World Series in 2005 to the Chicago White Sox. That year he had an excellent season with 15-7 and 154 strikeouts and won the first game of the World Series. He should not have problems to be included in immortality.

Livan Hernandez will have a space in the sacred precincts. He is the unique Cuban selected World Series MVP with these two memorable victories in 1997 in his debut season in the majors. The younger brother of Orlando had 178-177 lifetime balance with 1976 strikeouts. In playoffs he pitched for 3.97 with seven wins and three defeats. He was selected to the All-Star Game in 2004 and 2005 seasons in which he achieved the Silver Slugger by his numbers as a hitter, and was also leading the majors in pitches with 3,927 and 4,009 respectively.

Hopefully the Hall of Fame Cuban baseball will go on steadily and to include in future in all fairness the players we have analyzed. Their sports careers so warrant. Omit them would be scandalous.

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