feature of 'Tony Oliva' by Thom Henninger features Thom Henninger's book 'Tony Oliva'

Tony Oliva is undergoing a sort of post-career revival. Back in December, the Veterans Committee came one vote shy of electing him to the Hall of Fame. Now comes Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend by Thom Henninger.

The timing is both coincidental and fortuitous, and there's another parallel between and present and past at work here. With the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, which was preceded by the instant impact of stars like Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, the subject of Cuban players in the Major Leagues is back in the headlines.

Younger fans may not realize that before Fidel Castro seized control of the baseball-crazy island in the early 1960s, which led to the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, dozens of Cuban players came to the United States. There were 40 in the Washington Senators' organization alone. Names like Zoilo Versalles, Camilio Pascual, Tony Perez, Mike Cuellar, Bert Campaneris, Jose Cardenal, Minnie Minoso, Cookie Rojas, Tony Taylor and Luis Tiant dotted rosters across both leagues.


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By: Paul Hagen