"Perhaps none of the big league teams wants to risk being defeated by one of our teams," Castro said.
One of the first moves Castro made after gaining control of the government in 1959 was to order expansion of Stadio Latinoamericano from 21,000 to 51,000 seats.
Even though one of Cuba's two commercial-free television networks carries two games each night, switching from one to the other depending on which is more interesting, the stadium is always filled for Havana City games.
All the seats are cheap seats because admission is free. (A slice of pizza at the concession stand costs 84 cents. Coffee and ice cream also are available.) No one leaves early to beat the traffic because there is so little traffic. Most fans take city buses to the stadium.
Castro's involvement in baseball didn't stop with stadium expansion. It's no coincidence that when he decided he liked designated hitters, Cuban pitchers had the bats taken out of their hands.
Those bats, by the way, are aluminum, made in the USA. Because of the trade embargo between the two countries, Cuba can't buy the bats from the United States but must get them through Canada. In exchange, Cuba sends ice hockey jerseys to Canada. What are they going to do with them in Havana?
When the trade embargo was first implemented, the Cubans began making their own baseballs. But their players, accustomed to baseballs from the United States, complained about having to use them. So administrators at the sports factory had their baseballs enclosed in Wilson covers. There were no more complaints.
The sports factory in Havana not only produces most of the baseball equipment used by Cubans today, it exports it.
The latest customer is the Soviet Union, which has adopted baseball as an official sport in anticipation of having a team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Cuba depended heavily on Soviet and other Eastern Bloc coaches for its sports development in the '60s and '70s. Now it has returned the favor by sending a baseball adviser to Moscow.
"It's not easy to teach them baseball because of the idioms," said Felix Moya, an INDER vice president.
"We have taken the language of baseball and Cubanized it. For instance, we say \o7 equiplay\f7 instead of squeeze play. For the Soviets, we have to take our Cuban terms, translate them to English and then translate them to Russian."
Don't be surprised if the Soviets soon have a word for AstroTurf.
In a discussion here with organizers of this summer's Pan American Games in Indianapolis, Castro asked for their opinions of AstroTurf.
Even though he was a pitcher in his younger, pre-revolutionary days, he said he, like most Cubans, wants to see a faster game with more offense.
So, if he was watching television on this particular evening as Havana struggled with the Miners, he probably was excited when the home team's left fielder, Antonio Arduy, hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Blues a 5-0 lead.
Or are they the Browns? No one is sure about Havana City's nickname. They have been known in the past by the color of their uniforms. Some fans call them the Lions.
The fans called the home run. Even before the hitter took the first pitch, they were on their feet, chanting words that mean "Go far."
The fans are almost always on their feet in \o7 Stadio Latinoamericano\f7 , eliminating the need for a seventh-inning stretch.
In the bottom of the seventh, a man in the stands begins leading the crowd in cheers, hoisting his metal crutch into the air as he does so.
Three different salsa bands are playing. The bands have high standards, requiring that a fan bring his own instrument to the game before he can join.
Ciudad Havana catches fire.
A short time later, so does the woman's kindling.
Entering the bottom of the eighth, Havana leads, 7-0. When the team scores three more times, the game is called because of the 10-run rule.
Havana is assured of having the lead for at least another 48 hours. No games are scheduled for the next day, a Friday.
But, somewhere, there will be baseball in Havana. There is always baseball in Havana.
'We have to use me or (heavyweight boxer) Teofilo Stevenson as examples to convince children to participate in other sports. But they'd rather play baseball. It's natural to see Cubans playing baseball all over the country.'
--ALBERTO JUANTORENA, Cuba's 1976 Olympic track champion