The new Cuban baseball immortals (II)

In the refounding of the National Baseball Hall of Fame also were inducted five athletes of the second stage, from 1962 to the present.

Here the task was very difficult considering the historical gap of over fifty years without induction, and the amount of outstanding players who have gone through the 54 national series. Would players from the sixties and seventies take precedence in voting or specialists would go for the astronomical statistics in the era of aluminum bat?

The finalists that were selected at this stage: Manuel Alarcon, Ramón Carneado, Pedro Chavez, Jose Antonio Huelga, Victor Mesa, Braudilio Vinent, Luis Giraldo Casanova, Orestes Kindelan, Antonio Muñoz and Omar Linares.

It is very difficult to compare eras and not succumb to the overwhelming statistics of the honorees.

The most voted was Omar Linares, for many specialists the most complete player who has been through national series. El Niño, in his passage by 20 Cuban classics, is located in the top five in all major offensive departments except stolen bases, in which he is tenth. His historical average of 368 seems an insurmountable barrier and the .644 slugging is only outdone by Alfredo Despaigne´s .650 without counting the last series but is very difficult for Despaigne to overcome Linares after his retirement.

As if that were not enough, and I thank for this statistic the restless Benigno Daquinta, Omar with Yuliesky Gourriel and Fernando Sánchez are the exclusive trio of players who counted over 200 home runs, over one hundred stolen bases and fifty triples. Almost nothing.

Another inductee was Braudilio Vinent. His long career of twenty seasons places him among the top five in ten departments. He pitched 63 shutouts and 265 complete games which are unbeatable for Cuban baseball records. The Meteor of Maya won over 200 games (221) and gave over 2000 (2,134) strikeouts. Respectable figures and very few pitchers had them. It is the only pitcher in the revolutionary stage that was inducted.

Antonio Muñoz is another essential in Cuban baseball. His path through 24 national series justify being in the top six in 14 departments. He is the only player selected to share his offensive and defensive excellence to be placed fourth in double plays participation in 1,392, and second in putouts and total assistances with 17,057 and 17,954 respectively. He was such a respected hitter that leads the intentional walks with 273, and walks with 1,551 outstripping his closest pursuer Enriquito Diaz by 110.

El Gigante del Escambray will be remembered for the home run that decided the World Championship in 1980, and his extreme humbleness in and off the baseball field. Those qualities dignify him even more.

Orestes Kindelan is the only inductee that historically leads four offensive departments. His 487 homers seem from another galaxy, and only Yuliesky Gourriel and Alfredo Despaigne could approach such a figure. The 1,511 RBIs are a dream for any player to the point that outstripped Muñoz in over a hundred RBIs. The total basis traveled up to 3,893 is another outrageous figure. His only affordable and less important leadership is 91 sacrifice fly balls. The Major Drum was awesome bat in hand in national and international events.

The fifth was Luis Giraldo Casanova. While his numbers in national series are not as dazzling as the other players (he is situated in just four sections in the top ten) he passed into history as “The Lord Baseball Player” by his great integrity. One example is that along Lazaro Junco and Omar Linares is part of the only trio of players with over 300 home runs and over a hundred stolen bases. Besides that, his international performance was commendable.

The lofty statistics prevailed over the romantic baseball the first revolutionary decades. And although I voted in my 10 proposal for the five selected I feel the absence of large icons of the beginning of the revolutionary baseball as Pedro Chavez, Miguel Cuevas and Jose Antonio Huelga.

I also believe that legendary figures of the Cuban sports journalism Eddy Martin and Jose Antonio “Bobby” Salamanca could be among the hundred eligible names on the ballot at this stage. Luckily a historical debt was settled, and in baseball there will never be consensus in Cuba.

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