MEXICO CITY – Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, winner of Spain’s 2015 Princess of Asturias prize, said in an interview with EFE that baseball was part of the island’s soul and he was heartbroken by the growing lack of interest in the sport among his countrymen.
“Cuban spirituality is expressed in an important way via baseball and it pains me that the young people in Cuba want to play soccer instead of baseball,” Padura said in Mexico City on Saturday.
The 62-year-old Padura, who was awarded an honorary doctorate by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) last week, spent some time discussing his passion for baseball, which was the subject of one of his early books, “El alma en el terreno: Estrellas del beisbol Cubano,” co-written with journalist Raul Arce and published in 1989.
“Baseball plays a decisive role in the identity of cities like Matanzas and Havana. We can talk about writers, but if we start discussing baseball players from Matanzas and Havana, and what they have meant to Cubans since the 19th century, we’ll discover cultural riches and it’s a shame that it would be lost,” Padura said.
The writer said it was too bad that people were losing interest in baseball in many countries, adding that it was the fault of those who run the sport.
Padura said the Major Leagues should provide more support to the World Baseball Classic, the main international team competition in the sport.
“Soccer isn’t less commercialized, but it has done a better job and backed competitions that give it visibility,” the Cuban writer said.