DURHAM, N.C. — USA Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation announced today that their Collegiate National Team programs will compete for the second consecutive year in an international friendship series. Last year, the two countries resumed friendship-series play at the collegiate level after a 16-year hiatus, with Team USA traveling to Havana for a five-game series — the host nation won the series, 3-2.
The 2013 edition will see the Cuban National Team travel to the United States, and feature games across three states from July 18-23.
“We are extremely excited to host the Cuban National Team this year,” said USA Baseball executive director/CEO Paul Seiler. “Renewing our friendship series last year was a historic step for two countries that share an extremely rich baseball history. We hope with the success last year in Havana and this year’s series in the United States, we will build the foundation to continue this series for the foreseeable future.”
“Hosting the United States in 2012 was the culmination of hard work by both the U.S. and Cuba,” said International Baseball Federation vice president Antonio Castro. “The games in Havana were an incredibly positive experience for the players and fans, and we look forward to the same kind of atmosphere this year in the United States.”
The series will be the first in the U.S. between the two baseball-rich countries since 1996 when Cuba won a five-game series held in Minor League ballparks across four southern U.S. states, 3-2.
“Playing in Cuba was one of the best experiences of my playing career,” said 2012 Collegiate National Team pitcher Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State), who will return in 2013. “I flew straight down from the Golden Spikes Award ceremony in New York; there was no way I was going to miss that trip. It meant a lot for me and my family to visit Cuba, and the opportunity to play against that competition while representing my country made the experience even better.”
In 2013, the teams will take the field for the first time on July 18 in Des Moines, Iowa. Hosted by the Iowa Cubs at Principal Park, Team USA will play its first game in Des Moines since defeating Chinese Taipei, 7-1, in 2000.
On July 19 and 20, the Omaha Storm Chasers and the Omaha Sports Commission will host Games 2 and 3 of the international friendship series at Werner Park in Omaha, Neb. The games will continue a recent tradition of the Collegiate National Team playing in Omaha. In 2010, USA Baseball hosted Japan at Rosenblatt Stadium, and in 2011, hosted Japan at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
The following day, the two teams will travel to the Triangle area of North Carolina to play the final two games of the international friendship series.
On Monday, July 22, the two teams will meet at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., for Game 4, and Game 5 will be played the following night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.
USA Baseball records show that the U.S. and Cuba’s National Teams (U.S. professional teams did not begin competition until 1999) competed consistently each year from 1987-1996, with various friendship games played as early as the late 1970s. The series is among those with the richest history for USA Baseball, with its collegiate All-Star games against Japan serving as the longest-running friendship series, having just completed its 38th installment in 2011.
The games are the culminating event of the Collegiate National Team’s 2013 summer tour, and they follow games in Japan from July 6-11 and 13 matchups with summer collegiate league all-star teams from June 22-July 2 and again from July 15-17.
The 2013 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will be led by Texas Christian skipper Jim Schlossnagle. Players will be invited over the course of the college baseball season, and the final 24-man roster will be announced on June 30. The team will first gather for training on June 21 in Cary, N.C.