Fields: Inside Baseball…Ethnic Style


Senator Marco Rubio is being attacked for misstating the circumstances under which his parents emigrated to the U.S.  Was it before or after the rise of Castro?

For many non-Cubans, it seems like “much ado about nothing”.

For Cubans, who daily live a Fidel-driven Diaspora, it’s everything. When you escaped from the island defines your life.

But, before you laugh at this as silly, overblown infighting, consider that all groups have similar subdivisions that outsiders are unaware of or see as trivial.

It was not until 1968, when I moved to Washington D.C., and went over to Howard University, did I realize how obsessed Black people were with shades of their skin color.  Group photos of sororities and fraternities made it perfectly clear that they self-divided in fashion that would have brought a smile to the racist Apartheid government of South Africa.

How many white people know about the “brown paper bag test”?

Even less known is the division of Ashkenazi Jews (European) and Sephardic Jews (Middle Eastern).  These groups even further subdivide with German Jews looking down their nose at East European peeps.

Go one step further.

Before the Holocaust,  Russian Jews (Litvacks) thought  that Jews from Galacia–the Polish/ Ukraine border and known as Galitzianas–were a bunch of country rubes.

Before the Iraqi war, how many of us knew about the division of Sunni and Shiite Muslims?

You know all those Polish jokes?  In South America, they’re Bolivian jokes.

In Central America the question is: How many Guatemalans does it take to screw in a light bulb?  In Scandinavia, it’s Norwegians?

Here in America, all Protestants are created equal.  It’s just that some Protestants (Episcopalians) are a bit more equal than others (Baptists).

Mandarin-speaking Chinese don’t want their daughters marrying someone with Cantonese accent.

I guess it boils down to this: As long as there is someone out there to piss on, we can all feel better about ourselves.

And so it goes.

19 Responses to “Fields: Inside Baseball…Ethnic Style”

  1. Kevin says:

    As a native of South Carolina, I could also tell you about the differences between hillbillies, rednecks, and white trash…..

  2. Woody72 says:

    Sam, Every Cuban I’ve ever known knows the year their parents fled. As hard as it is to believe, Cubans who abandoned their country and refused to fight communism have strange sense pride in that fact. I don’t even try to understand it.

  3. Amazed says:

    @ Woody – it must be nice to wallow in ignorance. Clearly it onvolves sense deprivation. Read a book. Or two. Cubans both inside and outside of Cuba have been fighting communism all these years. They fled for their lives . And sometimes with just that to their names. Amazing that this is what you got out of Field’s article.

  4. Time For A Change? says:

    Who gives a crap about all those divisions? It all comes down to one thing: either you are Irish or you ain’t.

  5. Woody72 says:

    I get the feeling that Mr. Amazed might be one of those people who feel it was ok to abandoned Cuba in its greatest time of need. You go protest in Miami were it safe. ( That will drive Castro out for sure. )

  6. Chrysalis says:

    Just call it for what it is: better economic opportunities.

  7. Kevin says:

    “Time for a Change?” is sooooo right!!

  8. Angelo Castillo says:


    My father left Cuba for the US six months before we did in 1961 to establish himself with a job and find a place for us to live. He claimed us in six months later in 1962. I was three years old and my sister was eight when we rejoined him in NYC. My parents were both in their early 40’s and none of us spoke a word of English. It was not easy.

    We lived in Havana in a large house. He had a good business there that he ran with his brothers. My father opposed the Castro regime from the very start. He received information in 1961 that his name had been placed on a “list” which is the same as saying they communists would soon find him and he was either going to jail and they would kill him for his views.

    To escape that fate and save his family, he contacted a friend who allowed him to board a Gulf Oil carrier bound for Galveston from Havana. From Texas, he bought a Greyhound bus ticket to NYC and met up with my grandfather, a retired US Merchant Marine who lived there.

    He presented himself to the State Department and was granted political assylum. He was given US resident alient status. He found a job, found an apartment and claimed us six months later. My family were political exiles. Return would mean our imprisonment or death or both.

    His hopes of one day returning to a free Cuba were dashed over time. We became US citizens seven years later at the earliest possible opportunity, which required that we leave the country and re-enter in order to comply with the rules. He packed us up one day and drove us up to Montreal to fill out the paperwork. That week we were allowed back into the US and from there then applied for and were granted citizenship.

    My family did not leave Cuba on a pleasure trip nor was it a move motivated by greater economic opportunity. My father had money in his country we were not poor though much of what he had was taken from him by the regime. Still, he would have not left his country for money alone. He left seeking freedom. He left because they were going to kill him.

    Arriving here in the post-Castro era is a different set of circumstances than immigrating to the US from Cuba in 1956 or in the 1970’s. Cubans came to the US at all different times and for a variety of reasons — and all of them valid. But we can’t suggest that those differences are irrelevant because they defined why we came here.

    My family were not immigrants to the US, they did not come here for better economic opportunity. We were political refugees seeking assylum. We were exhiles that later became citizens. So, it’s not a question of being pissed on, Sam. That’s not it at all. It’s a question of what actually occurred. I know no Cuban, especially none that grew up in the Miami area, that doesn’t fully understand that difference or know how their people got here with vivid accuracy. It’s all they talked about back then.

    Now I suppose that all these years later one can say, well, we’re all in the same boat now. But how we got here, why and when our families left Cuba for the US, the reasons we’re here — all that defines our family stories. It matters and we should just tell it like it truly was. That’s all.



  9. Angelo Castillo says:

    Sorry for typos and misspellings. Typing in this comment box while trying to edit can be a chore.


    If you have a long comment, it might be easier to type it in Word. Then move it over to’s comment section using cut-and-paste.

  10. Angelo Castillo says:

    Good tip.

  11. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Angelo,
    Thank you for making my point!

  12. Panda Bear says:

    I tend to agree with Angelo’s post. I grew up with a few Cubans whose families didn’t come to the US for a better lifestyle. They got themselves here to be able to get up each morning. Many of those Cubans I knew were well-to-do in their country and in no need whatsoever of a roof over their heads or a dish of food. They had to leave or face certain death by the hand of Fidel, his brother Raul, or their Bolivian sidekick, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who was in charge of firing the coup de grace at the firing walls. These three terrorists and despots together with all their followers would find everyone on the list Angelo mentioned and take care of business. Millions of men and women mysteriously disappeared that way, as it was a hush-hush type of operation…of course, after they were tortured gruesomely and mercilessly for days or hours due to disagreeing with them. It was all carried out similar to the Hussain-Quaddafi regimes, so you can begin to draw comparisons. At least those are the stories I remember hearing. So, let’s do some research down in Miami, where the older folk are still alive and able to remember before we speak, Woody72.(Helluva a name!)

  13. Angelo Castillo says:


    I am not making your point. The only point I’m making is if you’re going to tell your story in public, in order to help define yourself as a cadidate in a certain ways to voters, then you really need to get your facts straight. Otherwise you invite attacks on your credibility and really do’t have a right to complain afterward.


  14. Woody72 says:


    The truth can sometimes be harsh, I just called it the way it is. Castro is in power today because he had the guts to fight for what he believed in. Cubans that came to the safety of Miami instead of fighting for Cuba, have only themselves to blame. And this is coming from a liberal, you should hear what the conservatives have to say. ( Behind closed doors of course.)

  15. Broward Resident says:

    Woody could use a history lesson. In 1958 Cuba was under the harsh Batista dictatorship supported by the United States and the mafia as Castro rose up in revolt. Cubans supported Castro’s revolution over any butcher in power as horrible as Batista. There was huge poverty in Cuba living together with huge wealth and no middle class. Wherever you see that, communism is only a heartbeat away.

    Castro didn’t come out as a communist originally. That only happened well after he took power. The United States refused to work with him because the Kennedy’s felt stung by Castro’s impertinence; a miscalculation that cost an incompetent JFK his life.

    Worse it pushed Cuba into the waiting arms of the Soviet Union. Castro needed a super-power friend but Kruschev’s price Cuba becoming communist. In reality Castro and Che were already half-way there anyway. Castro found his port in a storm and went down that path but he had never once announced that intention during the revolution. Now many of his supporters on the Island had to think twice. Some opposition started to bubble up. It had to be dealt with.

    Castro systematically eliminated any and all opposition by killing or jailing them just as Lennin had done in Russia. He followed the very same playbook to ensure his control. Even Che went down along with a whole bunch more. Castro became every bit as ruthless as Batista.

    Now, you can’t fight that with no weapons. The thing to do is flee and figure it out from outside your nation. You plan a coup from the outside and return when you can. That’s what that wave of Cubans set out to do. Many of them are still trying.

    The Irish didn’t leave their homeland because they lacked the will to plant potatoes properly. The Jews didn’t leave Europe because only handful of them were beat up a little by Hitler. And the Cubans did not leave their country because they lacked the guts to fight. Batista is gone because they had the guts to fight. But when it came to Castro it’s not guts they lacked but bullets.

  16. Broward Politico says:

    May I suggest to those responding to Woody72 to leave him be. He is entitled to his opinions, as ignorant, stupid and cowardly as they may be.

  17. Panda Bear says:

    Thumbs up to Broward Resident. Here’s someone who knows their stuff! It’s such a pleasure dealing with competent individuals.

  18. Woody72 says:

    To defend cowards so vigorously speaks volumes about you.

  19. Mister Courthouse says:

    Fields, you’ve learned first hand about Obama and his economic program. Aren’t you now out of work?