HARTFORD — The Cuban baseball team visiting the United States got a lesson in American history last week at a visit to the Mark Twain House.
Both the Cuban and West Hartford teams attended for about an hour on Wednesday to learn more about Twain, the author who was one of Hartford's most famous citizens and also a baseball fan.
The team's trip to the house and museum served as a break between the travel and games on this 10-day trip. The teams also have been to Fenway Park in Boston and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"This is one of the cultural treasures in Hartford," James Golden, director of education at the Mark Twain House, said. "This is a cultural exchange program and this is one of the places that makes Hartford distinctive."
Craig Hotchkiss, educational program manager at the Mark Twain House, gave a 30-minute presentation about Hartford's baseball history and Twain's role as a baseball ambassador. Hotchkiss asked at the start of the presentation if any of the players had heard of Twain, and only a handful of the West Hartford players raised a hand.
Hotchkiss' presentation was translated into Spanish by the Cuban team interpreter, Reynaldo Cruz Diaz.
Diaz is an accomplished baseball researcher who was heavily involved in the creation and planning of the goodwill exchange between the teams. He is the only Cuban member of the Society of Baseball Researchers and is publisher of Beisbol Universo, a highly read Spanish language baseball blog.
The Mark Twain House, at 351 Farmington Ave., was home for the writer from 1874 to 1891. His first mention of baseball in a writing came in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," published in 1876.
"There was no joy in life for poor Tom. He put away his bat and his ball and dragged himself through each day," Twain wrote.
Following the presentation, the teams went on a short tour of the house.