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Teens from Cuba play ball in Connecticut as part of USA-Cuba Goodwill Tour

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It’s been quite a ride for Team USA and Team Cuba, and an incredible bonding experience.

In April, teens from West Hartford traveled to the Holguin Province of Cuba as part of the USA-Cuba Goodwill Tour 2016 to play ball, learn about different cultures and meet new friends.

Now, 17 teen baseball players, their coaches and their facilitators from the Holguin Province of Cuba are here in Connecticut! The team arrived on Sunday, and boy have they been busy.

The group arrived in Connecticut on Sunday, July 10, after 36 hours of travel, and headed straight to Boston to take in a Red Sox-Tampa Bay MLB game at Fenway Park. The team was even honored on the field!

Then on Monday, July 11, it was game on as Team Cuba and Team USA from West Hartford played their first rematch in three months at the University of Hartford. But it was one, two, three strikes and out for the home team, which lost 10-2. After the game opening ceremonies and a reception were held and emceed by FOX 61’s own Jimmy Altman.

On Tuesday, the kids visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York to explore–and then compete on–the hallowed grounds of Doubleday Field. It was another rematch for Team USA and Team Cuba, but Cuba eeked out another win, beating USA 12-11.

Wednesday, a baseball clinic was held for the teams, as well as other local kids who signed up. The kids also got to go for a swim, and then Team Cuba suffered…well, not its first loss, but its first “not win”; Team Cuba tied Team West Hartford Havoc 9-9 in a game at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford.

“It’s something most people in their country wouldn’t even begin to dream about,” said Dennis Woodworth, the Goodwill Tour coordinator.

Thursday, Team Cuba played Team Hartford at Hyland Park, where Team Cuba experienced its first–and only!–loss. Team Hartford won 6-3.

After the game, the teens got a chance to visit the Science Center and taken in a game of some true local baseball: The Bristol Blues game at Muzzy Field! On Friday, the teens got an even bigger treat: the chance to tour ESPN in Bristol.

On Saturday it was back to the baseball pitch, but no luck for Team Newington–Team Cuba defeated the home team at Legends Field 7-2.

After some closing ceremonies, the sixth and final game in Connecticut was played on Sunday, with Team Cuba again taking the win against Team Glastonbury. The Cuban teens won 10-8 at the Riverfront Stadium.

All the kids got to enjoy one last treat on Monday: a trip to Lake Compounce, which was apropos given the extreme heat and humidity!

The new friends say farewell on Tuesday, when Team Cuba heads home, but hopefully it’s not forever; The USA-Cuba Goodwill Tour is already working on a rematch for next year, giving the Americans a chance to earn back some points. The final game tally: seven wins, one loss and one tie for Team Cuba.