Sunday, December 27, 2015

LOS CUBANITOS



  "Los Cubanitos" was an organization in the mid 60's that was created by one man with an idea to unite and keep many Cuban refugee youth in touch with their Cuban roots. Most of the kids had just escaped from a violent and disruptive upbringing that saw first hand a bloody and gut wrenching revolution.
Emilio Cabrera with
Vice President 

Roberto Rodriguez

  "Los Cubanitos" were created and organized on January 28th, 1965 from an idea that sprang from the mind of Emilio Cabrera, a former player and manager in professional baseball in Cuba and later a popular sports commentator and columnist. Cabrera was not only head of the sports pages in the newspaper "La Patria" but a sports commentator on Cuban radio. The sadness of listening to many exiled Cuban youth speaking only English, the ignorance of who Jose Marti was, as well as their lack of knowledge of the provinces and towns of Cuba, propelled Cabrera to create an organization called, "Los Cubanitos." His goal was not only to have the youngsters play baseball and keep them off the streets but to also have them learn some basic Cuban history.

Los Cubanitos
President
Arturo Ramos
 The first two months of this grand task was plenty of hard work to say the least. The need to obtain funds for the purchase of uniforms, balls, catching  equipment, bases, etc..... were extremely crucial if Cabrera's idea of a Cuban baseball league for children was to even get off the ground floor. Cabrera and others which included "Los Cubanitos" President Arturo Ramos along with Vice President Roberto Rodriguez, worked many long hours, day and night scheming and scratching for a way to get this idea going. Their efforts was constant
and consistent, in other words, they were pests. There was no way they were going to be denied, and they weren't.  When they were not calling politicians and various organizations in exile, they would call many businesses trying to get money and support for this incredible dream.  
 In one his countless visits, Cabrera arrived at the offices of the prestigious "Miami Latin Association" to meet with it's Governing Board, headed by Dr. Modesto Mora, Dr. Jose Pintado. Mr. Paul Bardino and others. Emilio Cabrera enthusiastically lobbied for uniforms and equipment, promising to pay for them later..... needless to say Cabrera won them over and thus led the way for the first kids in exile to proudly wear a baseball uniform.  
Miguel LaVilla,
 photographer
 for Los Cubanitos
 
 Los Cubanitos also had some incredible mentors and coaches and who also gave up their valuable times to teach the game of baseball to hungry and eager ball players. These heroes played a big part in shaping the lives of many kids, such as Publio Bravo, Rene Janero, Sandalio Consuegra, Rafael Avila and many many more. Last but not least, who can forget the great cameraman Miguel LaVilla whose pictures are featured in a major way in Cubanitos recorded history.
Emilio Cabrera


 The inauguration of the first "Los Cubanitos" baseball league was in the grounds of Shenandoah Park located on 22 Ave. and 17 St. in the SW section of Miami. The first tournament "Los Cubanitos" ever had consisted of two categories, one of the classifications was named "Bronco" with boys aged 11 and 12 years old. The Broncos had 6 teams classification representing the six provinces of Cuba, Pinar de Rio, Havana, Matanzas, Las Villas, Camaguey and Oriente. The other category "Junior" they would have young ages of 13 and 14 years old was called. The Junior League was made up of four teams that were named after the more traditional Cuban baseball teams, Havana, Almendares, Cienfuegos and Marianao. The champions of "Los Cubanito's" first ever tournament from the classification "Broncos" was team Havana. The Junior league champions was team Almendares.

Try-out day
 "Los Cubanitos" expanded and besides running their own leagues, joined the organization "Boys Baseball", and took part in competitions that were offered every year with this group of North American teams in two age groups. In the Junior category, "Los Cubanitos" selection was composed of the best players (all stars) from that classification. Sadly in it's first tournament, they were eliminated in a series that attracted a large Cuban exile public. The Broncos selection of stars fared better and managed to reach the semi-finals which made many Cubans very proud.

 "Los Cubanitos" grew astonishing fast. In its second year of operation they had over 500 youngsters ready to play baseball. They were divided into three categories. Novaticos (Rookies) of 8-10 years. Broncos of 11 and 12 years and the Junior League of 13-14 years old. The league got so big that they were divided into 24 teams and 5 classifications. The competing teams in 1966 were named after some of the more popular names of cities, districts and villages of Cuba,  like Vibora, Cerro, Luyano, Lawton, Santos Suarez, La Ceiba, La Lisa, Buena Vista, Miramar, Vedado, Great Bridge, East of Havana, Caimito, Cardenas, Guantanamo, Mariel, Nuevitas, Placetas, Cienfuegos, Batabano, San Jose de las Lajas, etc.....
Khoury League State Champions, 1969

  "Los Cubanitos" tried something new in 1969 and formed a very formidable team with it's best 15 year olds to play in the prestigious and nationally known and respected "Khoury League". There, the Cubanitos squad not only won the regionals, but the State Championship as well, with an over all record of 30 - 2.  Many local fans then and to this day would say that that club may have been the best team in the entire country.
Many pages and books would be necessary to fill to the amount on victories and accomplishments that were achieved under the banner of "Los Cubanitos" in its short but historic duration in exile. There are many like myself, that give major credit for their successes in life because they played ball with this organization.

 "Los Cubanitos" major claim to fame was when they were crowned Junior World Series Champions in 1968 and 1969. Filling Miami Stadium with a very exited and vociferous crowd to capacity on each and every game, never to lose a game on both of those championship series.
 The press, especially the editors of the newspaper "La Patria", were absolutely amazing, they never refused space in their newspapers to advertise and promote "Los Cubanitos."  For Miami radio there is also a deep appreciation especially Cuban station WFAB "La Fabulousa" which were always willing to advance the cause of "Los Cubanitos".  Special thanks to Arturo Alfonso Rosello, Jess Losada and Armando Garcia Sifredo, all masters of journalism in Pre-Castro Cuba for their magnificent and informative articles on "Los Cubanitos".

 For most Cubanitos players, there was a mutual kind of awe and respect when playing other teams within our league. The players, organizers, coaches and parents of Los Cubanitos did what no other group or organization ever did for the exiled Cuban youth. They united all of us in a common cause not only to help keep us off the streets but also teach us simple values like teamwork and sportsmanship. For many of us kids, Los Cubanitos was the first and only kind of organization that actually gave us a chance to be a part of something big. They helped many of us become what we and our children have become today, successful.

 Finally, all credit and appreciation goes to the man 
that without his outstanding and heroic effort, none of this incredible story in our lives and our history happens.

 He far exceeded all expectations and truly went far beyond the call of duty. Emilio Cabrera gave his all to help thousands of needy kids and for that, he should eternally be remembered as a true legend and patriot. Rest assured, none of us will ever come close to repay what this wonderful man did for us.
 In the end, no words can give the homage that this Cuban patriot deserves. Emilio Cabrera will be forever remembered as a humble person who wanted to do something great for the wondering and lost Cuban youth, and in the end..................He did. 



     Check out Los Cubanitos on Facebook    


             https://www.facebook.com/Los-Cubanitos-145972048770303/?ref=hl



                          

Check out this video offered to us by one of Los Cubanitos's players, Robert Rodriguez...............


Here's Emilio Cabrera (R.I.P) as an All Star,
always had time for kids.....

One of Los Cubanitos many inauguration days 







My brother Eddie Perez (R.I.P.) on top 
there I am giving it my best on the bottom....














Emilio Cabrera

Evelio Perez I, II and III...... With my Dad and Grandfather