Peter C. Bjarkman (1941-2018) wrote over forty books, with a primary specialization in sports history. He was the senior writer for www.BaseballdeCuba.com, the leading source for current Cuban League and Cuban national team coverage. Bjarkman made numerous media appearances as an expert on Cuban baseball, including on the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations Cuba” (with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain) and on ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary, “Brothers in Exile” (2014). He is the author of “A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006” (2007 hardcover, 2015 paperback) and coauthor of “Smoke, the Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball” (1999). In 2017 he won a Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) HENRY CHADWICK AWARD for career achievements as one of “baseball’s outstanding researchers.” His award-winning book “Cuba’s Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story” (2016) explores one of major league baseball’s most troublesome sagas of the new millennium. He was also honored posthumously with a 2019 SABR Baseball Research Award for his final book, “Fidel Castro and Baseball: The Untold Story,” published December 2018. Bjarkman passed away in October 2018 during a research trip in Havana, Cuba.
Fidel Castro and Baseball: The Untold Story
Few political figures of the modern age have been so vilified as Fidel Castro, and both the vilification and worship generated by the Cuban leader have combined to distort the true image. The baseball myths attached to Fidel have loomed every bit as large as the skewed notions that he was a hidden communist before rising to power, or that once in control of the island’s destiny he betrayed the revolution he had initially set out to make. Castro was never a major league pitching prospect, nor did he destroy the Cuban national pastime in 1962.
In Fidel Castro and Baseball: The Untold Story, Peter Bjarkman dispels numerous myths about the Cuban leader and his association with baseball. In this groundbreaking study, Bjarkman establishes how Fidel constructed rather than dismantled Cuba’s true baseball Golden Age—one that followed rather than preceded the 1959 revolution. The author also demonstrates that Fidel was not at all unique in “politicizing” baseball as often maintained, since the island sport traces its roots to the nineteenth-century revolution. Fidel’s avowed devotion to a non-materialist society would ultimately sow the seeds of collapse for the baseball empire he built over more than a half-century, just as the same obsession would finally dismantle the larger social revolution he had painstakingly authored.
A fascinating look at a controversial figure and his impact on a major sport, this volume reveals many intriguing insights about Castro and how his love of the game was tied to the country’s identity. Fidel Castro and Baseball will appeal to fans of the sport as well as to those interested in Cuba’s enduring association with baseball.
Cuba's Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story2016
A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-20062007 (2014)
Diamonds around the Globe: The Encyclopedia of International Baseball2005
Smoke: The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball (with Mark Rucker)1999
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of 2019 SABR Baseball Research Award (Society for American Baseball Research) for "Fidel Castro and Baseball: The Untold Story"
- Winner of a 2017 SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) HENRY CHADWICK AWARD for Lifetime Achievement as a Distinguished Baseball Historian
- Winner of 2016 SABR Baseball Research Award (Society for American Baseball Research) for "Cuba's Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story"
- Winner of 2008 SABR Edward Valero Latino Baseball Committee Award for Best Newsletter Article of the Year
- Winner of 2007 SABR Robert Peterson Negro Leagues Committee Recognition Award ("A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006") for contributions of Negro league baseball history
- Winner of 2004 Sporting News-SABR Award for "Diamonds around the Globe: The Encyclopedia of International Baseball"
- Winner of 1994 Macmillan-SABR Baseball Research Award for "Baseball with a Latin Beat: A History of the Latin American Game"