Local baseball team headed back to Cuba

WEST HARTFORD -- You could say they are taking their swings again as the USA-Cuba Goodwill Baseball Tour is returning for another mission that combines baseball and culture connecting.

Last year, 17 players and their families, about 70 in all, journeyed to the Holguin Province for a week of games and goodwill. This year, 75 people are in the contingency from Connecticut.

"Last year we were the pioneers," said Tim Brennan, the president of Teen Cultures Connect, the sponsor of the USA-Cuba Goodwill Baseball Tour. "The point is to use a shared interest, baseball, to connect teens between the U.S. and Cuba."

In 2016, the West Hartford group delivered about a 1,000 pounds of school supplies and baseball equipment to kids in Cuba and this year they have doubled their efforts.

"People have been so generous and everyone has been stuffing their bags with extra gear to give away," said Brennan.

The players, mostly 13 and 14-year-olds, will spend much of their time crisscrossing the Holguin Province playing games and meeting the villagers along the way.

"It's all a common language," said Dave Kenna, a team USA coach, "no matter your language, baseball is international."

Fellow coach Shaun Farley added, "We're looking forward to going down there and seeing the people we made connections with last year and coming back with a couple of wins!"