The Lost Son of Havana

In 1961, Fidel Castro’s government prohibited professional sports from being payed in Cuba. At that time, a young Luis Tiant was the most promising baseball player on the island. He was playing in Mexico when he got the news and decided not to go back to Cuba but pursue a career in the American Baseball Leagues. He was not allowed, like all Cubans, to return to his homeland and had no idea when he would see his parents again.

This 2009 documentary, directed by Jonathan Hock, narrated by actor Chris Cooper, shows Luis’ outstanding pitching career in America and his emotional return to his family 46 years later.

At 23, still a rookie, he became the hottest pitcher in the American League when he struck out 11 Yankees in his major league debut. Years later, the Minnesota Twins let him go because of a shoulder injury and no other team wanted him. Then, the Louisville Colonels, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, hired him. We watch him reinvent himself by changing his delivery, timing, and movements. By developing a style that nobody could figure out, changing the way he pitched so many times in a game, baffling the other team, he caught the Boston Red Sox’s attention. The rest is history as they say. In 1972, Fenway Park resonated with the chants of :”Luis, Luis, Luis!!” The reunion with his parents was televised and his father, a very good pitcher himself in the 1930s Negro Leagues who had struck out Babe Ruth once, was given the honor of pitching the first ball while receiving a standing ovation.

All these events are intertwined with Luis’ journey back to Cuba. There, after 46 years, the rest of his family and old surviving friends interact with a very moved Tiant, the Lost Son of Havana.

ESPN Films

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