Sixty years ago, aboard a Gilligan’s Island–style cabin cruiser, 82 would-be revolutionaries somehow made it from Mexico to the Cuban coast. They landed in a swamp, where government troops had been tipped off to their arrival.
Pinned down in a sugar-cane field, only 21 rebels made it into the surrounding mountains. From such an inauspicious start, Fidel Castro and his ragtag crew somehow grew in power, taking control of the country three years later and turning the Cold War world on its ear.
I had heard about Castro’s baseball skills, his love for the game, when I first visited Cuba in 1992. They’re easy to dismiss, even deride, but then one remembers what he overcame to become the island’s dictator—El Jefe—through 11 U.S. administrations.
So let’s step back and try to tease out the man from the myth.