USA Today
May 4, 1999
Wacky night at Camden Yards

                   BALTIMORE (AP) - The Baltimore Orioles knew the Cuban players
                   could hit hard. What they didn't know was that a Cuban umpire could hit,

                   Guarding his turf at second base, Cesar Valdez body-slammed and
                   punched an anti-Castro demonstrator in shallow center field Monday night
                   as the Cuban all-star team embarrassed Baltimore 12-6.

                    ''Above all, I am Cuban,'' Valdez said. ''I just thought it was the right
                    way to do it.''

                    Omar Linares and Danel Castro each had four hits, and Andy Morales
                    spread his arms wide as he steamed around the bases after a three-run
                    homer in the ninth inning. Reliever Norge Vera pitched seven strong innings
                    as the Cubans avenged a 3-2, 11-inning loss at Havana on March 28.

                   The Orioles, whose AL-worst 7-17 record belies their payroll of more
                   than $78 million, were completely outplayed by a team whose players
                   make a total of about $2,250.

                   ''It was very apparent they wanted it much more than we did,'' Orioles
                   manager Ray Miller said.

                   The crowd at Camden Yards was already booing the home team and the
                   Cubans led 6-3 in the rain-delayed exhibition when it became a real
                   slugfest in the fifth inning.

                   An inning after three protesters ran into the outfield and were arrested, a
                   man jumped onto the field down the right-field line. Carrying a sign that
                   said, ''Freedom - Strike Out Against Castro,'' he headed toward short

                   But Valdez, one of three Cubans on the six-man umpiring crew, took
                   exception and charged after the fan.

                   They tangled briefly, then Valdez lifted the fan over his head and threw him
                   down to the ground hard. Valdez began swinging, and landed a few blows
                   to the man's head, before Orioles left fielder B.J. Surhoff rushed in and
                   pulled Valdez off.

                   ''He wanted to go back and hit the guy some more,'' Surhoff said. ''I tried
                   not to let that happen.''

                   Police said the four people who ran onto the field - all from Miami - were
                   arrested on a charge of trespassing.

                   At least one of the protesters wore a T-shirt that said, ''40 Years Is Too
                   Much,'' an apparent reference to Fidel Castro's leadership of Cuba. As
                   police led one fan past the Cuban dugout and the Cuban delegation, he
                   yelled at them while the Cubans booed and gave him the thumbs-down

                   Just like every other team, the Cubans proved they could run around the
                   bases against the Orioles, too.

                   ''It was a one-sided game,'' Cuban manager
                   Alfonso Urquiola said. ''We didn't expect this.''

                   So this became the most curious question at
                   Camden Yards: Would any of the Cuban
                   all-stars run away before the team left for

                   There was a heavy police presence outside the
                   ballpark to monitor demonstrations, and
                   Immigration and Naturalization Service agents
                   stood by just in case of potential defections. By the end of the game, there
                   was none.

                   Inside the park, fans had trouble keeping track of the Cuban hitters.
                   Castro, who scored four times, lined a triple that highlighted a four-run
                   second inning as Cuba batted around.

                   Harold Baines hit a two-run double in the first, right after a 56-minute rain
                   delay in the middle of the inning. But that was about all that went right for
                   Baltimore as Scott Kamieniecki was hit hard.

                   Orioles pitchers never retired the Cubans in order, and Baltimore fielders
                   made three errors. Albert Belle went 0-for-3 and struck out twice.

                   Instead, the fans standing behind the Cuban dugout on the third-base side
                   had a field day. Waving flags and banners, blowing whistles and dancing,
                   they watched their club win first-ever game between the Cubans and a
                   major league team in the United States.

                   Danel Castro hit two triples and scored four runs. Morales and Ariel
                   Pestano had three of Cuba's 18 hits, the most against the Orioles since
                   opening day.

                   By the time Morales homered, more than half of the 47,940 fans had left.
                   He raised his arms high as he reached home plate, the Cubans streamed
                   from the dugout to greet him. Delino DeShields hit a three-run homer in the
                   Baltimore ninth.

                   After the final out, the Cubans celebrated on the mound with a Cuban flag
                   before the teams shook hands. Several Cuban players stopped in front of
                   their dugout to salute their fans.

                   The Orioles did everything to make their visitors feel at home. Along with
                   playing Cuban music over the public-address system, Boog's Bar-B-Q Pit
                   - run by former Baltimore star Boog Powell - added rice and beans to the

                   The Bird mascot greeted the Cuban players as they were introduced, and
                   fans gave them nice ovations. In fact, the only booing before the game was
                   directed at Miller.

                   A light drizzle fell at the start of the game and it was halted in the bottom of
                   the first inning.

                   Clearly, though, there was not going to be a rainout, not after all the trouble
                   baseball went through to arrange this game. And, there was no curfew -
                   this was the Cubans' last trip into town, of course.

                   Though baseball officials and police seemed somewhat tense because of
                   the possibility of defections, the Cubans seemed to treat the topic lightly.

                   In a pregame news conference, Urquiola was asked whether he was afraid
                   one of his players might run into the Baltimore dugout chasing a foul ball
                   and never return.

                   Urquiola laughed, as did Cuban stars Antonio Pacheco and Linares.

                   ''We are not concerned about that,'' Urquiola said through a translator.
                   ''We have no fear, otherwise we wouldn't be here.''

                   Unlike in Havana, where Castro sat in a front-row box, there was no
                   obvious presence of American government officials. U.S. Senators
                   Christopher Dodd, Patrick Leahy and Paul Sarbanes attended, but sat in
                   private boxes on upper levels.

                   Notes: Kamieniecki is on the disabled list because of a strained left
                   hamstring. He has made two rehab starts in the minors. ... Commissioner
                   Bud Selig said four teams have asked about playing against the Cubans
                   next year. ... The game ended at 12:18 a.m. EDT.

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