Tribeca film examines Cuba's lost son of baseball

Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:43pm EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - One of baseball's greatest showmen returns to the spotlight in a documentary film that infuses the drama of sport with the emotions surrounding Cuba's revolution, isolation and gradual re-opening to the United States.

More significantly for Luis Tiant, he returned to his native Cuba 46 years after getting caught outside the country during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, unable to return without giving up his promising professional baseball career.

"The Lost Son of Havana," which premiers at New York City's Tribeca Film Festival, documents Tiant's 2007 return to Havana. There he was re-united with family, friends and former teammates who alternately embrace him and resent his search for fame while leaving Cuba behind.

U.S. and Cuban authorities allowed him to return in conjunction with an exhibition baseball game.

U.S. President Barack Obama this month relaxed some of the travel restrictions that helped keep Tiant and other Cubans in the United States from visiting their homeland.

Tiant, 68, still wears his big droopy mustache, now turned white, and smokes jumbo cigars, making him a natural for the camera, just as he was in 1975. His magnificent and charismatic performance in the World Series that year as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox made him one of the most popular players in the game.

Many fans recall the 1975 series, in which the Cincinnati Reds defeated Boston in seven games, as the most exciting they have ever seen.

"We love athletes and we love human interest stories and we love Luis, and so it all seemed to mesh when we found out he wanted to go home to Cuba after being away for 46 years," said Bobby Farrelly, co-executive producer with his brother Peter.   Continued...

<p>Former baseball pitcher Luis Tiant of Cuba poses for a portrait during an interview regarding the documentary film "Lost Son of Havana" in New York April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>