08/21/13 - Westwood Press - Wellesley's Eizenberg helps organize series of senior softball games with Cuba
Over the past five years, a certain group of Cubans and Americans has
formed a bond that will never become untangled.
They can thank Wellesley's Michael Eizenberg for that.
Eizenberg works with the Education Travel Alliance and is also a member of
the Wayland-based EMASS Senior Softball League. In 2009, after what he
called "lots of hard work," Eizenberg was successful in getting the league
a license that permitted 60 of its 350-plus members to travel down to
Cuba's capital city, Havana, to take part in a senior softball tournament.
Since 2009, more than 10 teams from EMASS have gone to Havana to take part
in the annual tournament, and now for the second year in a row the Cuba
Veteranos team received permission from both the Cuban and U.S. governments
to head to Boston today to take part in a week-long event known as the
Highlighting the event will be three doubleheaders between the 19 members
of the Cuban team and the EMASS team, which will mix up its roster each
The first of the doubleheaders is Sunday at the Robert Cusick Field in
Boston at 1 p.m. following the opening ceremony. The other two will be held
in MetroWest, with the second on Monday at the Cochituate Fields in Wayland
at 10 a.m., and the third on Wednesday at the Ashland Fish and Game Club at
"Last year was sort of a dress rehearsal for this year," said Eizenberg, a
66-year old Wellesley resident and EMASS team member who organizes the
Friendship Games with co-worker Katherine Rice DeFreitas. "This year, we're
more prepared about what we're going to be doing. Everything was very
last-minute last year. This year, we've known about it for quite a while
and we're really excited about it. It's going to be a great time.
"They feel the same way about softball at our age as we do. They have
recreation softball leagues for people ages 55-plus just like we do. To
know that they share the same passion for softball as us is outstanding."
Whether the Americans are heading to Cuba or vice versa, the players of the
host country always have the visiting team's players stay in their homes
rather than in hotels. This allows for more time to socialize with each
other away from the field, which naturally helps create friendships.
Throughout the week of the Friendship Games, there are also plenty of group
activities to take part in, such as a duck boat ride, a visit to the
Kennedy Library, and even a Red Sox game, which not only allows for more
time to bond with others but also allows the visitors from Cuba to see and
do things that they may not be able to see or do in their homeland.
"To bring them up here to see our country and our ways is eye-opening to
them," said 64-year-old Needham resident and EMASS team member Gary Siegel,
who is on the league's board of directors.
"They don't get to experience many of the things that we do. Those people
make you realize how lucky we are here. We just want to do everything we
can for them when they come.
"I'm humbled by it. They're all such extremely nice people and it's just
great to take part in something like this."
The popularity of the Friendship Games has also led to having sponsors.
Eizenberg's Education Travel Alliance is one of them, and between his
company, the Grand Circle Foundation, and the Road Scholar Foundation,
money isn't an issue.
"They help provide a majority of the financial side of this," said
Eizenberg. "And with the Cuban players staying with us, there's really not
too much money involved."
Among those playing for the Cuban team are baseball legends such as Pedro
Chavez, Tony Gonzalez, Reinaldo Linares and Carlos Cepero, as well as
softball legend Armando Aguilar.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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