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Castro's Curveball

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Tim Wendel

Everybody has a past; some are more intriguing than others. When retired schoolteacher Billy Bryan's daughter begins cleaning his house a few days after his wife's death, she finds in the forgotten pages of his dusty scrapbook part of a past she's never … see full wiki

Author: Tim Wendel
Publisher: Ballantine Books
1 review about Castro's Curveball

A great combination of history and baseball

  • May 31, 2010
While it is not absolutely necessary, some knowledge about the role of baseball in Cuban life, the winter baseball league that used to exist in Cuba and the revolution carried out by Fidel Castro will be very helpful in increasing your appreciation of this novel.
While there is no question that Fidel Castro was some kind of baseball prospect when he was young, there is dispute as to how good he was. The premise here is that he was a pitcher with a curveball that was so good that he was signed by the then Washington Senators.
Billy Bryan is the main character and he is a catcher playing winter ball in the four-team Cuban league. The year is 1947 and Billy is struggling to stay in professional baseball, he is good but it seems clear that when the season is over, his career as a baseball player is finished. However, fate takes a many fingered hand one night when a charismatic Cuban student leads a demonstration during a game. That student takes the mound and proceeds to dazzle the crowd and his catcher with the quality of his pitching. That student was future revolutionary Fidel Castro and Bryan pursues him as a baseball prospect.
While Castro fiddles with the idea of playing baseball it is revolution that burns inside him. In his dealings with Castro, Bryan meets a Cuban woman named Malena, she is part of Castro's revolutionary circle, and her area of expertise is photography. Bryan is quickly smitten with Malena and his following of her gets him associated with the fledgling revolutionary movement, which is uncertain and going in many different directions.
The action bounces between Bryan's events of 1947 and decades later, after his wife dies. He has retired from teaching high school, so Bryan goes back to Cuba in the company of his grown daughter. This journey causes him to relive the events of 1947 as he encounters the daughter of Malena and he begins to come to grips with his past and the history of Cuba. However, most of the action takes place in 1947 amid the tumultuous and decadent lifestyle of late 1940's Havana.
This is an excellent novel in the areas of baseball and revolutionary politics. They are melded into an interesting and entertaining amalgam and easily satisfies the "It could have happened" test.

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