The Chemainus-Cuba baseball connection is continuing and taking on a whole new dimension.
After a Cuban group from Union de Reyes visited Chemainus during July, the Chemainus & District Baseball Association is back on board for a return trip.
“We’re heading down in May – May 8, we leave,” confirmed association vice president Rick Shay.
“We’re taking a combination Midget/Bantam team. Also, we’re taking a team from Campbell River, a Midget overage kind of team.”
In all, there will be a total of 86 travelers in May with the two teams – 51 from the Chemainus and Duncan group, and 35 with the Campbell River contingent.
There’s plenty of work to be done before then. Lots of fundraisers will be coming up in the New Year, including a dance in February, bottle drives and all sorts of other things.
Both teams will play at least two games in Cuba. Jesse Shay and Nate Robson will be the only returnees from the original group of local players that went to Cuba in 2016.
In addition, there’s going to be an extra special treat for the visitors and hosts alike.
“We’re going to have Hockey Night in Cuba,” said Rick Shay. “We’re going to take down some road hockey gear.”
There’s also going to be a wedding there that blossomed during the Cubans’ trip to Chemainus.
Translator Patricia Guzman of Crofton will be marrying Jose Luis Munoz Pichardo (Munoz is the last name that is used, the second last name is from their mother’s last name so they use the last name from their dad).
“She went down in October to do some humanitarian stuff,” Shay explained. “They got together and he proposed to her and she accepted.”
Munoz is currently spending time here until February and his skills will be utilized for some winter programs to benefit local players.
The Chemainus group is hoping to find corporate contributors to bring the Cubans back this summer as well since they have a two-year Visa and an exhibition game with the Harbour Cats in Victoria is tentatively set for July 30.
The Harbour Cats are also looking to bring two Cuban pitchers onto their roster in 2018.