Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States

The U.S. and Cuba have both used baseball as a political tool, and the sport has operated as both bridge and barrier between the two lands.

Film Signature Image
Global Voices
Premiere Date
June 26, 2000
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2001 Banff International Television Festival-Best Sports Documentary
  • Producer

    Aaron Woolf

    Woolf received a master’s in film at the University of Iowa, but got the bulk of his education working in the field in Lima, Mexico City, Los Angeles, and New York. In 2000, Aaron directed Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball, and the United States, a WNET-ITVS co-production that received a Rockie Award and aired nationally on PBS. In 2003, Aaron directed Dying to Leave: The Global Face of Human Trafficking and Smuggling, Show more which won an Australian Logie Award and a Rockie nomination, aired on the PBS series Wide Angle, and was presented at the State Department and the United Nations. Aaron is the founder of Mosaic Films Incorporated and an avid mountaineer. Show less

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    The Film

    The passion for the sport on both sides of the Straits of Florida was evident in 1999, when a historic two-game series pitted the Baltimore Orioles against the Cuban National Team. For the first time in 40 years, a major league team played in Havana, and the Cuban team traveled to Baltimore. In packed stadiums, cowbells and fans, and protesters and conga drums provided a backbeat for the series. But, behind the excitement lay a complex history of competition and cooperation that stretches back to baseball’s 19th century origins.

    Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States highlights the defection of Cuban pitcher Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who was signed by the New York Yankees in 1998.

    By looking at more than a century of baseball history, Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball and the United States illustrates the ways in which the game has served as a common ground and a test of strength between politically estranged countries. It also reveals how the sport can be seen as a microcosm that reflects divergent national identities, as well as underlying tensions of race, democracy, and opportunity.

    Featured interviews include Tommy Lasorda of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who was a former player in the Cuban Professional League; Wilfredo Sanchez, Cuba’s all-time hits leader; Rudolfo Fernandez, former coach of the Almendares and Habana baseball clubs in Cuba and star player for The New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues; and many others.