Enrique Hernández (Cuba)

From BR Bullpen

Manuel Enrique Hernández Amorós

  • Throws Left
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 164 lbs.
  • Born in Cuba

Enrique Hernández was the first baseball player to defect from Cuba following the January 1961 suspension of exit visas by the Fidel Castro government.

In 1962, Hernández was a seventeen-year-old southpaw pitcher for the Occidentales club. In the first Serie Nacional, he had a 6 - 3 won-lost record. He was described in a speech, by Cuba's Armed Forces Minister and brother of the president, Raúl Castro as the nation's best player. He was named the Cuban Serie Nacional Most Valuable Pitcher. He had a 1.64 ERA, led the league with 94 whiffs and held opponents to a .180 average.

Castro also said that the pitcher was worth $60,000 a year. Hernández reported that he was paid 167 pesos (which at the time was pegged as equivalent to the United States dollar) per month. This wage was two-thirds that of the salary that he would earn in a Class D league.

In early August, 1962 the Cuban government-backed press and radio denounced Hernández as a traitor. Hernández stated that this change in sentiment came after he had received an invitation from from a agent to tryout in the United States. The agent, Julio de Arcos, had "saw him pitch in Cuba when he was 15, and he looked good." Arcos also claimed he could get the a seventeen year old a tryout with the American League's Cleveland Indians.

The media also charged that Hernández planned to get the national team disqualified in the Central American and Caribbean Games. The games, which began on August 15 Kingston, Jamaica, are strictly amateur and it was alleged that Hernández had planned to announce that he was a professional after playing in the games.

Before the games began, Hernández quit the national team and returned to his home in Matanzas Province. He then undertook a hazardous seventeen hour trip from his homeland to Florida in a sixteen-foot boat. On August 11 he had a meeting with an Indians scout. It does not appear that Hernandez ever pitched in the minor leagues.