AN ARMS IMBALANCE WITH HAVANA
Latin ballplayers: They're sprightly singles hitters, right? Not according to a U.S. college all-star team that just lost four straight to the Cuban national team during a swing through Tennessee, North Carolina and West Virginia. It was the first time the Cuban team had toured in the U.S. since 1960, so the Americans didn't know quite what to expect. But they certainly didn't expect all that power.
The Cubans hit 16 home runs in the four games. "You make a mistake against them," said Barry Manuel, a relief pitcher from LSU, "and it's a homer." Manuel had just been shelled in the second game of the series, which Cuba won 13-8 on the strength of five dingers. In the first game Cuba had hit four in winning 10-9. They hit three more in the third game and won 8-3. In the getaway game in Charleston, W.Va., the U.S. held a 6-1 lead in the second. But Omar Linares' second homer of the night tied it 6-6 in the seventh, and Pedro Medina and Antonio Mu�oz each hit a solo shot in the eighth as Cuba won again, 8-7. "They're unreal," said Florida State catcher Ed Fulton. "To me, they're a major league team."
Indeed, at each game there were major league scouts drooling over the Cubans. But drooling was all they could do. The Cuban players aren't allowed to emigrate, and national coach Pedro Chavez was careful to keep his players from getting too cozy with the scouts.