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Monday, December 20, 2021


The Triple-A Sugar Kings survived the Cuban Revolution and then after a championship season in Havana in 1959, found themselves playing in Jersey City at Roosevelt Stadium in the middle of the 1960 season – and all of 1961 as well – to escape the turmoil of the revolution and the possibility of being nationalized.

The name was changed to the Jersey City Jerseys, blowing a great marketing opportunity to be the Jersey City Sugar Kings, but it was a much different time and jersey sales were not even a figment of the imagination back then.

Shortstop Leo Cardenas, who went on to play 16 years in the majors, was the player grazed by a bullet in Havana during that game against the Rochester Red Wings in 1959 when a midnight “celebration’’ of the sixth anniversary of the first attack of Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries on government forces took place.

Yes, the game was running late. Rochester player/coach Frank Verdi also was hit by a falling bullet but like Cardenas, was not seriously injured.

Nothing could stop those Sugar Kings that season as they went on to win the International League Championship beating Columbus (Pirates) and Richmond (Yankees) in the playoffs. They went onto the Junior World Series against the Minneapolis Millers, led by Carl Yastrzemski.

Fidel Castro threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game 3 and in Game 7 the Sugar Kings won the series in walk-off fashion with a head-first slide at home, only to escape to New Jersey in the middle of the next season.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 20, 2021 at 02:52 PM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cuban baseball, sugar kings

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