1991 Pan-American Games
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The 1991 Pan-American Games were the first played in Havana, giving home field advantage to a Cuban national team that had won every Pan-American Games baseball competition in the 1970s and 1980s. At stake here were four slots for the 1992 Olympics, as the Pan-Am Games served as the qualifier for the first time the Olympics would have baseball as a medal sport. The games were held at historic Estadio Latinoamericano.
Team USA started off 5-0 but lost 3-2 to Cuba in front of 60,000 fans. In the semifinals, though, the US was stunned 7-1 by the Puerto Rican national team and never got to face Cuba for the gold. Cuba won 18-3 (thanks to 3 long balls from Ermidelio Urrutia) while the US struggled to beat the Dominican Republic national team 2-1 in 15 innings for the Bronze medal. All four finalists qualified for the Olympics.
(All stats are from the round-robin phase unless otherwise noted)
- Aruba went 2-6, being outscored 88-20. Only two teams were worse - one was the Netherlands Antilles team; Aruba had been part of the Antilles until a few years prior when they became a distinct part of the Netherlands. Clem Wernet (2-0, 1.84) led Aruba while Felix Thiel hit .400.
- Canada only was 1-7 despite a better run differential (38-63) than three other teams. They were led by Chris Smeeton (1-0, 1.13).
- Cuba went unbeaten and was easily first in runs (113) while edging out the USA for the top staff (19 runs allowed). They had almost every All-Star - C Jose Delgado (.500), 1B Lourdes Gourriel Sr. (.419/~.486/.871, 11 R, 4 HR, 9 RBI), 2B and MVP Antonio Pacheco (.545/~.615/.879, 13 R, 15 RBI), SS German Mesa, 3B Omar Linares (.414/~.575/.793, 13 R, 11 BB), OF Victor Mesa (.407/~.500/.630, 13 R, 13 RBI), OF Luis Ulacia (.500), DH Romelio Martinez (.409/~.552/.818, 12 R) and LHP Jorge Valdes (2-0, 0.73, 5 H in 12 IP). They did all of this despite losing ace Lazaro Valle to a blood clot in his arm and the defection of Rene Arocha. Cuba was the only Pan Am host to win it all until Canada in 2015.
- Dominican Republic finished 5-3 despite being outscored 39-33. RHP Felix Nova (3-0, 1.86) made the All-Star team while Miguel Sosa hit .500. Rafael Luis López managed the team.
- Mexico posted a 3-5 record and scored 35 runs while allowing 62.
- Netherlands Antilles tied Canada for last (1-7) and scored 28 while allowing 59 tallies.
- Nicaragua finished an even 4-4. Their 51 runs ranked 4th and their 36 runs allowed were 3rd. Orlando Cuevas (1-0, 1.32) led the staff while Freddy Zamora (.387/~.472/.710) was the top hitter.
- Puerto Rico won the Silver despite a 5-3 record. They scored 65, second to Cuba, but allowed 52, only 5th among the nine teams. Ernest Martinez (.389, .806 SLG) drove in 12 runs for the Puerto Ricans.
- United States had a fine 7-1 record in the round-robin and was second in runs allowed (24) and third in runs (61) before falling apart in the next rounds. OF Chris Roberts made the tourney All-Star team and tied for the lead with four home runs. OF Chris Wimmer (.385) stole the most bases (8). Top hurlers were Jeff Ware (1-1, 1.59) and Jeff Granger (2-0, 2.38). Ron Polk managed the team.
Also see 1991 Pan American Games (Rosters)