César Brioso is a digital producer for USA Today Sports, where he served as baseball editor from 2003 to 2004. Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1965, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Florida in 1988. He has been a writer or editor at several other papers, including The Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel (South Florida) and Tampa Tribune. César is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and blogs about Cuban baseball history. He will be talking about his book, “Havana Hardball: Spring Training, Jackie Robinson, and the Cuban League” at the 2017 Festival. César lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and son.
Author Website: http://cubanbeisbol.com/
In February 1947, the most memorable season in the history of the Cuban League finished with a dramatic series win by Almendares against its rival, Habana. As the celebration spread through the streets of Havana and across Cuba, the Brooklyn Dodgers were beginning spring training on the island. One of the Dodgers' minor league players was Jackie Robinson.
He was on the verge of making his major-league debut in the United States, an event that would fundamentally change sports--and America. To avoid harassment from the white crowds in Florida during this critical preseason, the Dodgers relocated their spring training to Cuba, where black and white teammates had played side by side since 1900.
It was also during this time that Major League Baseball was trying its hardest to bring the "outlaw" Cuban League under the control of organized baseball. As the Cubans fought to stay independent, Robinson worked to earn a roster spot on the Dodgers in the face of discrimination from his future teammates.
Havana Hardball captures the excitement of the Cuban League's greatest pennant race and the anticipation of the looming challenge to MLB's color barrier. Illuminating one of the sport's most pivotal seasons, veteran journalist César Brioso brings together a rich mix of worlds as the heyday of Latino baseball converged with one of the most socially meaningful events in U.S. history.