Originally Posted by Gainesville Red
Maybe I just don't remember, but why did it not lead to an incident when Contrares crossed over?
This is halfway-informed speculation, not necessarily fact, but...Contreras had a very different relationship with Cuba than did many players who ended up defecting. He was openly supportive of the Communist government and in general I think was viewed as a rather quiet, non-threatening patriot. He actually resisted defecting for quite a long time -- scouts were all over him several years before he broke down and did it. He was viewed as the best pitcher in the world not playing in MLB and could easily have had the means to get out before he did. And he kept saying he didn't want to leave. Although he did, of course, ultimately defect, he hasn't changed in some of his beliefs. Whereas some Cubans have vehemently criticized their country since arriving in the US, Contreras has always held that he is Cuban, that he loves his country, that he always will play for them given the chance. This could have affected how they viewed him. In addition, Contreras defected WITH Miguel Valdez, the much-respected and highly successful technical director of the Cuban national team. Perhaps this had something to do with the lack of a "stir" on this defection -- either because the attention was deflected (unlikely given how well-regarded Contreras was) or because of the respect that Valdez commanded.
Castro was very hard on Contreras, especially near the end. Didn't he make him pitch like three straight Olympic games in a row? Something like that.
While there may not have been a public fuss made on the level that it could have, the defection was huge, HUGE in the public of Cuba, who took it horribly. And if I remember correctly, Cuba did pull out of the Central American Games shortly thereafter, and I think that was definitely a statement on the part of the Castro regime, a warning to other players not to defect.