BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-The Samford baseball team will travel to Havana, Cuba next month to play against various all-star teams from the island nation, director of athletics Bob Roller announced Wednesday.
It will be the first foreign trip of any kind for the Samford baseball team. Samford teams have competed in Havana before, as the Samford (then Howard College) football team played at the Havana National University on Nov. 28, 1927. Samford won the game by a score of 20-6.
The logistics of the trip have been arranged by World Link Ministries of Dallas, Texas. The trip was approved by the United States Treasury Department and is permitted by NCAA rules. The four games will not count toward Samford's 56-game schedule during the 2009 season.
"We've had a relationship with World Link Ministries in Cuba through one of our trustees, John Bell, for the past couple of years," Samford head coach Casey Dunn said. "We have sent used equipment down there for them to use as part of their ministries on the island.
"John came to us in the spring of this past year and mentioned the idea of taking our team to Cuba to compete against some of the teams on the island," Dunn said. "Obviously, we are excited about the opportunity. Through his work and the work of some people at Shades Mountain Baptist Church and World Link Ministries, they were able to secure a license for Samford to go into Cuba and have arranged this trip for our student-athletes."
"This is an outstanding opportunity for Samford students in a fascinating part of the world," Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland said. "It is a remarkable honor for our baseball team and coaching staff to represent our university and our community. I am certain that their presence in Cuba will reflect positively on Samford's mission."
The Bulldogs will travel to Havana on October 17 for the four-day tour that takes place during Samford's Fall Break period. The team will play up to four games throughout Havana during the trip and also have a day for sight-seeing in the capital.
"The opportunity for baseball down there is great for our guys," Dunn said. "But, more importantly than that, this is an excellent learning and sharing opportunity for our guys. It is a chance for them to use a game they enjoy and they love to demonstrate their faith to a group of people who have the same passion for baseball, or maybe a greater passion for baseball than our kids have. Hopefully, we will touch some of those we come into contact with. But, without question, this is a great growth opportunity for our guys."