Introduced to Cuba in 1866, and played professionally there since 1878, baseball is an integral part of the island nation's culture, and the list of great Cuban ballplayers is a long and immensely colorful one. Unfortunately, thanks to the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, relatively few of them have been able to strut their stuff in the major leagues during the last half-century.
But President Obama's surprise announcement this week of a "new chapter" in U.S.-Cuba relations, which would include the lifting of the trade embargo, potentially opens up a new chapter in Major League Baseball, as well.
There may soon be a time when Cuban players will not have to defect from their homeland in order to play in the majors; it's also conceivable that we may once again see MLB teams holding spring training in Cuba – as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees did in the 1940s and 50s, before the Cuban Revolution – or that, far down the road, there might even be a MLB franchise in Havana. (Hell, the Tampa Bay Rays or Cleveland Indians could significantly increase their attendance figures by moving there for 2015.)
That's all in the future, of course. So, with a tip of the cap to "El Inmortal," Martín Dihigo – who never got a shot at the majors – here's our list of the greatest Cubans to play in the bigs thus far.