USA Baseball, Cuba Could Revive Friendship Series in 2024

Alfredo Despaigne of Team Cuba reacts after a run scored on a walk in the first inning against Team USA during the 2023 World Baseball Classic Semifinals. The two countries may restart the Friendship Series, which was last played in 2019. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Yusseff Diaz of Pelota Cubana reported that USA Baseball and the Federación Cubana de Beisbol will meet to discuss the revival of a Friendship Series event during the summer of 2024. 

USA Baseball and the FCB will engage in meetings at the Instituto Nacional de Deportes, Educación Fisica y Recreación headquarters and Estadio Latino Americano in Havana, Cuba to discuss the future of the Friendship Series event. World Baseball Softball Confederation officials will also be in attendance. 

The Friendship Series will take place after the college baseball season in the United States and during the season of the Serie Nacional in Cuba, which now runs during the spring and summer. 

No announcement has been made regarding a venue, though the USA Baseball complex in Cary, N.C., Durham Bulls Athletic Park, or Estadio Latinoamericano are all possibilities. 

During July 2024, USA Baseball will most likely travel to the Honkbal Haarlem week event in the Netherlands. The Honkbal Haarlem week event will take place from July 12-19, 2024. The FCB has not announced yet if they will participate in the Honkbal Haarlem tournament as of now. 

The Honkbal Haarlem week event is a mixed club-national federation tournament hosted by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Baseball en Softball bond that has been going on since 1961. Honkbal Haarlem week does have an effect on the World Baseball Rankings. 

Chinese Taipei and Japan outside of the host nation Netherlands are the only three announced participants for the Honkbal Haarlem week event stated on the tournament website on July 11, 2023. 

USA Baseball will bring a roster featuring the top college players in NCAA Division I for the Friendship Series event and the Honkbal Haarlem week event as well. Cuba will likely have players released from the 2024 Serie Nacional season to play in the Friendship Series depending upon conflicts with their playoff schedule. 

During the 2023 World Baseball Classic, the United States played Cuba in the semifinals in Miami, the first time the two nations faced off in an international senior event since the 2008 Summer Olympics semifinals. 

The last Friendship Series the United States and Cuba played in North Carolina was in 2019. Cuba is 65-35 overall in international senior events against the United States. 

Playing against Cuba on American soil, the U.S. is 22-20, including games played at the 1996 Olympics, 1987 Pan American Games, and the 2023 World Baseball Classic. 

The United States played Cuba in the 1991 Pan American Games and the 2008 Olympic Qualifiers in Havana, the only times the U.S. has played Cuba on Cuban soil since the 1960 trade embargo. 

In 2012 Cuba faced the United States in a Friendship Series for the first time in 16 years while playing in Havana during that international baseball calendar year. In the summer of 2018, Paul Mainieri coached the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in Havana for a set of exhibition games against the Cuban National Team.

The United States is 16-1 at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. when playing against Cuba.

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