My father Richard and his pal Joe Miller would start drinking coffee in our kitchen before 7 on most mornings. Occasionally, they would be working on an idea to make both of them rich, but more often it was a discussion of world events.
The topic for most of 1958 was Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. As I recall, Richard and Joe were enamored with the progress the revolutionaries, with their ragtag appearance, were making in the attempt to overthrow Fulgencio Batista.
Hey, Batista was a dictator, and with this fat guy in the Soviet Union, Nikita Kruschev, promising to the West, "We will bury you," we had a bad opinion in Fulda, Minn. of people considered to be dictators.
OK, Nikita had a different title, but we saw him to be an awful Commie dictator.
Castro's revolution became officially successful on Jan. 1, 1959. You had to be much more locked into international politics than Richard and Joe to realize at that moment the Castro plan was also to become an awful Commie dictator.
Fidel finally died Friday at age 90. His brother Raul has been in charge for a while as Fidel's health was failing.
There was little noise in our recent noisy Presidential election over Cuba and President Obama's attempt to allow commerce and end the half-century standoff with the island's Communist government.
I'm hoping The Trumpeter and his Republican Congress choose to continue down that road, for at least two very important reasons:
I have cigar-smoking friends who truly love their Cubans, and open access to all Cuban talent – not just defectors – will further expand the talent pool for Major League Baseball.
Note: George Brophy, Calvin Griffith's main man in Twins' baseball operation for many years, once showed me a copy of the Washington Senators' brief scouting report on Fidel Castro as a Cuban pitching prospect.
There was not enough encouragement in the report to convince Papa Joe Cambria, the Griffiths' talent procurer in Cuba, to sign him.
Forgetting about time and geography, if Fidel Castro (Biran, Cuba) only had Jason Castro (Castro Valley, Calif.) to frame his pitches back then, Fidel could have been signed by Papa Joe, made it to the big leagues, discovered the joys of Capitalism and there never would have been a Communist regime in Cuba.
That's purely speculation, of course.
There are three classes in Minnesota town team baseball:
Class A is for Twin Cities teams. It has a connection to the state baseball board, but Class A basically runs itself. The state tournament is over by the middle of August, at the same time the Class B and C tournaments are getting started at towns in outstate Minnesota.
The Class B and C tournaments are held in concert over three weekends, winding up on Labor Day. There was a total paid attendance of 15,500 in Dassel and Hutchinson (as well as 11 of 66 games that were played in Litchfield) last summer – the largest paid attendance since 1998.
How many beers sold that amounted to is anyone's guess.
The B and C tournaments will be held with three official sites next summer: Green Isle, Hamburg and Norwood. A revised schedule will eliminate Thursday games (they don't draw) and some late Sunday night games (an inconvenience for all involved).
The ongoing problem is what to do with Class B. For the most part, teams assigned to B are based on either population, or a tradition of playing a higher brand of baseball, or the state board's whim.
Joe Kreger, a board member (and also the newly elected mayor of Green Isle), has admitted that how a team winds up in Class B is the greatest mystery this side of the Voynich Manuscript.
Actually, Joe didn't refer to the Voynich Manuscript, but it's my favorite mystery because it's written in a language that no one has been able to trace … which is exactly like the rules for Class B assignments.
The state board's Class B problem is that those teams don't draw fans as do the teams representing Class C (many of which are hamlets).
There will be roughly 40 teams in Class B next summer for 16 spots in the state tournament. There will roughly 280 teams in Class C with 48 spots in the single-elimination state tournament.
The state board has come up with another modified proposal for the Class B playoffs: Four regions with four teams qualifying from each region.
"We have to try to do something,'' Kreger said. "We've had eight geographical regions; last summer, one had three teams. We had two B teams, Blaine and Moorhead, that didn't have to win a game to make it to the state tournament.
"We have our next board meeting in January. If this becomes the format, it will balance out the competition to earn spots in B the tournament. We're hoping that four good regions will be better for everyone.''