IF FIDEL CASTRO wants to retain credibility as a baseball fan and sometime player, he will let Orlando Hernandez pitch again. Let his country's finest pitcher play the game in the window of youth still open.
Orlando, the 28-year-old former star of the Cuban national team, is brother and mentor of Livan Hernandez, 22, who defected and helped the Florida Marlins reach the World Series, winning their first game. Treason, says Cuba's dictator. When Orlando was seen with the cousin of the agent who brokered Livan's get-away, that gentleman was clapped in prison and Orlando was banned from the game for life.
He is training. The years remaining for his gifts and dedication are finite. He has never tried to flee. Let him show what he has, give to the game, inspire youngsters. In Cuba, if that's where he wants to stay.
Cuba's Castro-controlled media, blacked out broadcasts of Livan Hernandez' pitching exploits. but everyone in Cuba knows. Orlando, they say, is greater. Only an enemy of the Cuban nation would shackle that great arm.
Pub Date: 10/21/97