Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States on PBS World

Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States on PBS World

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 6:00pm


Highlighting the defection of Cuban pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who was signed by the New York Yankees in 1998.

Since 1866, Cubans have lovingly played baseball, a game that represented independence and modernity. Both Cuba and the U.S. embraced the game, but in distinct ways. Set against the backdrop of the choppy history of U.S.-Cuban relations, this program documents how both countries have used baseball as a political tool and how the sport has operated as both bridge and barrier between the two lands.

Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States encores Friday, July 16 at 6 p.m. on PBS World (cable 524/DT21.2).

The passion for the sport on both sides of the Straits of Florida was evident in 1999, when a historic two-game series pitted the Baltimore Orioles against the Cuban National Team. For the first time in 40 years, a major league team played in Havana, and the Cuban team traveled to Baltimore. In packed stadiums, cowbells and fans, and protesters and conga drums provided a backbeat for the series. But, behind the excitement lay a complex history of competition and cooperation that stretches back to baseball’s 19th century origins.

By looking at more than a century of baseball history, Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States illustrates the ways in which the game has served as a common ground and a test of strength between politically estranged countries. It also reveals how the sport can be seen as a microcosm that reflects divergent national identities, as well as underlying tensions of race, democracy, and opportunity.

Featured interviews include Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who was a former player in the Cuban Professional League; Wilfredo Sanchez, Cuba’s all-time hits leader; Rudolfo Fernandez, former coach of the Almendares and Habana baseball clubs in Cuba and star player for The New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues; and many others.

An international independent documentary series from the Independent Television Service (ITVS), GLOBAL VOICES samples the best of international documentary. In its second season, the series features several new documentaries and notable international documentaries that have previously aired on PBS in other forums.