Topic: "Stolen Bases" (3)
Professional Baseball has always had a structure. First, there was the "Rookie League," then a progression of Classes D, C, B, A, AA, and AAA before an aspiring professional athlete got his (at the time) shot at the Majors. Players, under the rules of Frodo's youth, were the property of the Major League team that first signed them to a contract. Not unlike chattel, players were traded, or sold, from one organization to another. Wealthier teams could buy, or trade for, talented players from smaller-market teams, while those less wealthy teams had to rely heavily on the flow of developing players from the Minor Leagues, as they were called.
All of the above nice-to-know trivia is the backdrop for the tale that today is told by the Hobbit. The Washington Senators were, for decades, the worst team in all of Major-League Baseball. The vaudeville joke was that the team was just like George Washington himself, i.e. "First in War, First in Peace, and last in the American League." Clark and Howard Griffith, the father-and-son owners of the Senators were notorious skinflints, and their team always had the lowest team payroll in the League. In order to save money, and to find better players, the Griffiths hired Joe Cambria to "scout" baseball players in the Caribbean countries. Rightfully, the Griffiths figured that there were talented athletes, and baseball was a big participant game in that part of the world, who would jump, cheaply, for the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. Thus began the importation of players from countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.
Frodo was a devoted baseball fan. Players such as Harmon Killebrew, Frank Howard, Roy Sievers, Bob Allison, Chuck Hinton, Earl Battey were some of the really good players who languished on the losing seasons of the Washington Senators. They were supplemented by Camilio Pascual, Zoilo Versalles, Pedro Ramos, and almost, a young Cuban named Fidel Castro.
THE Fidel Castro was not a poor farm boy, rather, he was the heir of an upper middle-class family in Cuba, who just happened to enjoy baseball almost as much as Frodo. Castro was probably very excited when he got the opportunity to "try-out" in front of Senor Joe Cambria, who had come to Cuba in search of the next generation of players to wear the uniform of Frodo's favorite team. Frodo can only imagine what it must have been like, for Cambria's written notes on Castro's performance, forever etched in world history, are both brief and succinct.
"Strictly Class D material."
For his contrarian readers, Frodo would simply add that had Castro been offered a contract by the Washington Senators, he would have, by progression of subsequent team movements, probably become the property of the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers were, not long ago, partially owned by George W. Bush.