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March 28, 2019

Long before the World Baseball Classic, the world witnessed history as the Baltimore Orioles played the Cuban national baseball team.

The Orioles and Cuban national team played a series of two games, the first in Havana and the second in Baltimore. The series was the first time that the Cuban national team had faced a squad composed solely of MLB players and the first time an MLB team played in Cuba since 1959.

The Orioles would win the game in extra innings after Harold Baines hit a single off of Pedro Luis Lazo, scoring Will Clark as the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning. Jesse Orosco recorded the final three outs in the bottom of the 11th and the Orioles won by a score of 3–2. The game was credited with helping introduce the MLB world to Jose Contreras, who pitched eight innings without allowing a run in the game.

The Cuban national team, fully stocked with players who were unavailable for the first game due to the 1998-1999 Cuban National Series won the second game in Baltimore. The game saw a few interruptions due to inclement weather and protestors.

It would be another seven years before MLB players from the United States faced Cuban national players in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. The Tampa Bay Rays became the first team since the Orioles to play in Cuba when they faced the Cuban national team in March of 2016.

(Cover photo via Angel Franco/The New York Times)


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