Is the King Returning to a Lost Kingdom?

Rey Vicente Anglada agrees to return to the Industriales after a lot of pressure from the authorities. (Prens Latina)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ernesto Santana, Havana, 1 June 2018 — Until just a few days ago, the situation of Industriales, one of the two baseball teams based in Havana, was similar to that of a year ago: the players began to train for the National Series without a manager. At that time, the options were Guillermo Carmona and Víctor Mesa, among a thousand rumors that no official voice silenced.

In an interview, Rey Vicente Anglada criticized that situation, which was harmful for the players. “I am absolutely against these barbarities.” To the question of whether he would be willing to return to the helm of the team, he was blunt: “I have been called several times and I always say that I will help but I will not take charge. Over my dead body would I return to managing the National Series”.

Now, after the sudden resignation of Víctor Mesa, several names were being shuffled again, especially that of Carlos Tabares, former captain of the Industrials, the “Blues.” Anglada, questioned again and again, repeated his sharp refusal. But suddenly, on Monday, the news broke: the return of the Lion King was official. The Industrialists could finally say habemus papam, since the “cardinals” had already decided.

After a 10-year absence, and after much insistence from the authorities, the mythical second baseman and successful manager returns. “We had long conversations, we met with the leaders of the Government and the Party and they raised the need for me to lead the team, especially for the 500th anniversary of the city, and we reached an agreement: I would assume that responsibility, but only for a season.”

Now 65, Rey Anglada, played for 10 seasons until he was 29, with explosiveness, intelligence and magic hands for defense. Apart from his excellent results, curiously, he was the first to use an aluminum bat in Cuban baseball — February 20, 1977 — and he has the speed record on return to the box.

In the early 80’s, scandalously, he was sentenced to prison for a crime never proven by anyone or accepted by him: selling a baseball game. It is difficult to find a comparable injustice against another Cuban athlete, but no authority has ever acknowledged the error in public. For the fans of the country his innocence is out of the question.

Reborn from his own ashes, Anglada returned to the Industriales and, for 7 seasons, guided them to winning 3 crowns and a division title. He took the gold with the national team in the Central American Games of Cartagena 2006 and the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro 2007. Winner of the second most titles with the Lions, after Ramón Carneado (who won 4), he is among the dozen Cuban players who were champions when they played — after starting on the team at 19 he won that same year — and also managing.

The return of the legendary Lion has raised the spirits of many fans a little, and even of their rivals, in the midst of some baseball happenings that reflect the decline of the national sport, especially the absurd Special Series, a phantom impossible to believe, even if he only serves to choose the few who have to complete the Cuba team.

The recent series has also not been very stimulating, despite some highlights. Following in the footsteps of the Las Tunas team, the Leñadores, heroic winners last season, the young players have managed to make their debut in the playoffs with Edilse Silva and now they will face the Alazanes, from Granma province, who are also following in the wake of their elders.

Unfortunately, the organizers have returned to the blunder when planning the 3 games — to win 2 — at home for the Alzanes, a flagrant iniquity for the disciples of Silva and for the fans of Las Tunas, who dream of playing the championship in the eastern zone.

In the west, although the recent flooding has interfered with playing the full series, and in Cienfuegos — the best team of the tournament, with a 28-9 record — they are waiting for the opponent that will be among the teams of Isla de la Juventud, Matanzas and Pinar del Río, still with a dozen games to dispute.

Thus, whatever the result, no winner of the four previous tournaments will be able to repeat and there will be a new champion, which will not be Artemis, nor Havana, nor Santiago de Cuba, holder of the last two titles.

In the Latin American Stadium the catchers and pitchers of the capital pre-selection have already been training since May 14. On June 4 they will join the other players selected and Rey Vicente Anglada’s delicate mission with his technical team will begin. “Now I will see what we have up close, although the team’s base is the same — six players — as last year, when I was helping Víctor (Mesa),” said the manager.

Despite the bleeding exodus of athletes to other countries and other provinces, Anglada believes that Industriales is still “one of the most complete teams in the country, although its weakest point is pitching.” First of all, the mentor gives them the possibility that Lions in other provinces will return. As for the style of play, he will insist on “speed, good defense and a lot of work with pitching, but above all with enthusiasm and with a lot of desire to go out and win.”

Although the capital fans are happy with the return of the King, some have no illusions about the blue team. The mentor himself clarified, just in case, that he is not a magician. A couple of days ago an Industrialista player said that when another expressed his joy over Anglada’s return, he just shrugged: “But he has no team!”


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.