Cuban baseball players to return to JP

A team of senior Cuban baseball players, including several major league and national team legends, will play softball against an American team this month in Jamaica Plain in a repeat of a popular event last summer.

The “Friendship Games” visit Aug. 22-29 will include an Aug. 24, 10 a.m., pick-up game at Pinebank Field in Jamaica Pond Park. Americans from the EMASS Senior Softball League will play against such Cuban legends as Armando Aguilar, Carlos Cepero, Pedro Chavez, Tony Gonzales and Reinaldo Linares.

An official series of games will be played Aug. 26 on the Boston Common, just like last year. Both teams also will visit Fenway Park for a Red Sox game.

JP resident Michael Frank, who played in last year’s games and also has visited Cuba to play softball, will host some of the players in his home. Friendship Games sponsors include JP’s Samuel Adams Brewery.

Since 2009, senior American players in the EMASS Softball League have made annual trips to Cuba to play in a senior softball tournament. Last summer, for the first time, the Cuban team was allowed to visit the U.S. Travel between the U.S. and Cuba has been restricted by both countries for a half-century, a legacy of the Cold War and bad relations with Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The local events were popular, with the Cubans drawing a big cheering section.

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