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From Cuba to Cooperstown, baseball unites teens on hallowed grounds

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. --They're no longer the home team, but a group of Cuban teens aren't letting that stop them from winning.

A group of 17 people from the Holguin Province in Cuba- including the teen baseball players making up Team Cuba, their coaches and their facilitators - traveled to Connecticut for part two of the USA-Cuba Goodwill Tour. Team USA paid a visit to their southern neighbors back in April.

Teams USA and CubaTeam Cuba arrived to a warm welcome from their hosts in West Harford on Sunday, but Tuesday was a hall of fame day. Both Team USA and Team Cuba boarded a bus bound for Cooperstown to explore the National Baseball Hall of Fame and then compete on the hallowed grounds of Doubleday Field.

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

The teams were treated to a VIP reception at the Hall of Fame and then took in the sights of the museum, stopping in front of a large picture of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate.

"Jackie Robinson broke a lot of barriers, and what we are doing right now is breaking a lot of barriers," said Reynaldo Cruz-Diaz, part of the Cuban contingency who is a baseball writer and serves as an interpreter.

"I've been watching them and their eyes are wide open and they are just great kids," said Shaun Farley, a father of a Team USA outfielder, of the Cuban kids.

After their visit to the Hall of Fame, the teams laced up their spikes and took the turf at Doubleday Field.

"It's really different from Cuba," said Reynier Morales, a hard-throwing Team Cuba pitcher. "We don't see the things we see here."

"We want to continue to learn about the American kids, continue to connect with them and play ball," Morales said.

"It's an honor to play on this field," said Team Cuba first base coach Julio Fernandez.

"Right now, my dream is complete," he added, fighting his emotions.

Team Cuba rallied from behind in the seventh-inning for a victory, beating Team USA 12-11.

Team Cuba will be playing various opponents during the remainder of their trip. You can find the full schedule here.

To see FOX 61's special series in Cuba, "Bats, Balls, Gloves, and Goodwill," click here.

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