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  • Submitted by: lena campos
  • 08 / 16 / 2012

No one will comment if the unidentified player has defected

The last time a baseball player defected in Edmonton, Ron Hayter got blasted by Fidel Castro.

The chairman of the Edmonton International Baseball Federation, Hayter was held responsible by the Cuban leader after three players from his national team went missing in 2008 during the World Junior AAA Championships.

El Presidente was so angry he called Hayter from Havana, tracking him down at Telus Field.

“He was hostile,” Hayter said Tuesday as news spread about a possible defection here at the World Cup of Women’s Baseball. “He spoke enough English so that you knew exactly what he meant.

“He said, ‘Ron, you are the scum of the Earth.”’

On Tuesday morning, officials with the International Baseball Federation called Edmonton police after discovering a Cuban player had vanished overnight from Lister Hall, a residence at the University of Alberta where the eight teams competing in the World Cup are staying.

Scott Pattison, a police spokesman, said the athlete is not formally listed as missing because she is in the country legally and may have left on her own accord. She has not approached police seeking asylum and is not the subject of a search, Pattison said.

The identity of the player has not been released. Officials from the Cuban team have been unavailable for comment.

Hayter, a former Edmonton city councillor, said he has not officially been notified a defection occurred, but said it would not shock him. Enamoured with playing in the big leagues, a handful of Cuban men have defected in Edmonton over the years.

“The fact that this is a woman is what makes it different,” Hayter said. “That would be a first.”

The Cuban team has lost all four of its games so far at the World Cup, which has been held every other year since 2004. The Cubans were scheduled to play Team USA on Tuesday before the contest was rained out, a game rescheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at John Fry Park.

Volunteer drivers for the Cuban team said authorities did not act as if anything out of the ordinary had occurred when they arrived to pick up the team Tuesday morning. The leader of the delegation went from vehicle to vehicle, taking a head count, but that is standard protocol for the Cubans, who often lose top stars during international play.

In 2008, the Kansas City Royals signed pitcher Noel Arguelles to a $7-million, five-year contract after he bolted from Cuba’s junior team in Edmonton.

While Hayter was surprised to receive a call from Castro that time, he wasn’t angered by the vitriol hurled in his direction.

“I said, ‘Mr. President, I have no idea how they escaped, and we didn’t do anything at all to encourage it,’” Hayter said. “I told him not to blame me, that we don’t keep teams under lock and key.”

Castro blamed him anyway.

“I remember it being a rather extended conversation and one that was decidedly one-sided,” Hayter said. “At the end, he hung up on me.”


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