Game 81: A Tony Oliva biography

By James Fillmore
Twinkie Town/SB Nation

Tony Oliva by Thom HenningerOlivia, 22, had been in America less than two weeks. (Born Pedro Olivia, he used his brother Antonio's birth certificate to get a passport, as Pedro's certificate had been lost.) Now it looked like anyone who returned to Cuba would not be allowed back in America. Give up your entire world of family and friends, for a dream which didn't seem very promising? Olivia's first instinct was to go home. Twins minor-league lifer Minnie Mendoza helped convince Oliva to keep trying. (Mendoza helped a lot of immigrant players, not just those on his teams; Reds HOFer Tony Perez, to name one.)

At heart, Henninger's book is about the stress these decisions caused Olivia and other Cuban-born players in America. Older Twins followers or team history buffs will recognize names like Pascual, Valdespino, Becquer, Tovar, and more. 

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