Video: East Bay youth baseball team embarking on trip to Cuba – KRON4.com

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RICHMOND (KRON) — Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Cuba is extremely rich in baseball talent.

Next spring, a youth baseball team from the East Bay will be making the trek to the Latin American nation to compare notes on sports and culture.

“You know a lot of these kids have never even been outside of their communities,” said Shiva Gaskins, who is the executive director of the Wheelhouse Academy of Baseball in Richmond. “So this is an opportunity for them to not only experience baseball that’s played by another culture, but just to be immersed in another culture and all the benefits that come with that.”

The catalyst for this trip is Wheelhouse Academy hitting coach Michel Rodriguez.

Born and raised in Havana, he spent years as a standout in the country’s pro league and says the American kids are about to see a cultural 180.

“I think it’s a good thing for them to see how these kids with nothing, they leave everything on the field,” Rodriguez said. “Heart, everything and they don’t care about looking beautiful or having the last pair of shoes. Stuff like that.”

The members of this team are the best from a crop of 80 players who tried out for a roster spot.

Now, the all-stars can’t wait to see how east bay baseball stands up to Cuba’s top talent.

“I think they’ll be some very well-trained and very good baseball players and I think it’ll be a very cool thing to see how they live compared to how we live here,” team member Ben Newton said.

And hopefully, walk away with an experience that’s a grand slam.

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