Home is where the hurt is

I can remember as a child trying to mimic the unique pitching style of Luis Tiant. I would stand as straight and tall as I could, slowly bring the ball and glove down to my chest, and then suddenly look back and away from the batter before flinging my pitch. Using this style, my pitches flew wildly in all directions since I could never swing my head back around in time to aim the ball. Nevertheless, as a child, my friends and I all wanted to pitch like Tiant.

In today’s Herald there is an excellent article written by Dan Le Batard about his experience after watching “The Lost Son Of Havana,” the new movie about Luis Tiant. It is a heartfelt and moving piece and one everyone should read.

For Luis Tiant, home is where the hurt is


This pain is not really mine. I didn’t earn it; I inherited it. But it still hurts. My parents, so much braver and stronger than I will ever be, suffered so I never would. But their pain was nonetheless hand-me-downed. Growing up in a Cuban household, I saw it in my mother’s tears and felt it in my father’s stories and heard it in the cracking voices of my late grandparents. They paid — my God, did they pay — so that I would always get everything free.

All that came rushing up on me watching The Lost Son Of Havana, and trying to push it down kept making my eyes sting. You don’t have to care about baseball or Luis Tiant or Cuba to be moved by it. It is a story about family and sacrifice and love and mortality and haunting loss that just so happens, this time, to be wrapped in a Cuban flag. But there are so many people in this, a country founded by immigrants, that it reaches and moves.

* * *

The film chronicles his return to the island after 46 years in exile. He always was afraid to go back because he didn’t want to be turned into a political pawn by Cuba’s propaganda machine. But he’s approaching 70 now. He’s tired. He just wanted to see his homeland once more before he died.

The best part?

“Seeing my family and my country,” Tiant says.

The worst part?

“Seeing my family and my country,” he says.

He always had wanted to see what he left behind . . . until he saw it. The rotting island’s poverty left him broken.



4 thoughts on “Home is where the hurt is

  1. What a giant! What a story.

    Almost 10 years ago, I was on a business trip to Savannah. I had to catch the last plane back through Atlanta . . . barely made it, but I was upgraded. When I sat down in my first-class seat, I noticed a boarding pass stuck in the pocket . . . I wondered, “Who sat in this seat on the way to Savannha?” I pulled out the boarding pass . . . a keepsake I will always treasure. It had the passenger’s name printed right on it, “LUIS TIANT.” I could hardly believe it . . . but it was true, he was coaching at Statesboro College. The memory of Luis Tiant’s triumpjhs for the Sox came back to me, his commanding victories on the field that would have been impressive even without his fearless, dominating manner.

    What a story: “It’ll make you crazy, thinking about Cuba. Just flying over the island when we arrived for the movie, my nerves were a wreck and my head felt like it was going to explode. The difference between how I left it and how it is now, it is a difference of 100 years. I didn’t even recognize the place where I grew up. I went by it by a block. Unbelievable. The streets and the looks on people’s faces, everything is broken. People just want liberty.”

    And they will have it! For sure.

  2. I think the saddest cut of all is its totally unnecessary, a free Cuba would be wealthy again within a generation. The saddness of lost time and lives, breaks the heart.

  3. It’s fall, 1975, and I’m watching the World Series. I was not a red Sox fan, but I hated the Reds (no pun intended). There is this cuban pitcher with the peculiar corkscrew motion. #23, he showed the batters and the viewers behind home plate, time and time again. Pride, he’s one of us.
    Thirty-five years later, he still gives. What a man, what a giant, what a cuban, El Tiante!

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