Things like food, music and languages don't always translate well from country to country but sports can often transition seamlessly. The Grosse Pointe Avengers are using the sport of baseball to introduce themselves to a world they've never seen before: Cuba.
When Brian Kruger proposed to take his baseball team to play in Havana, the response was one of disbelief.
"I thought it was a joke, honestly," says outfielder Chris Mourad.
"I was very surprised. I didn’t really believe him," says pitcher Joey Rheaume.
"Then we took it to the kids and said I think we’re going to do a tournament in Havana, and I realized quickly that they thought it was cool…and somewhat odd. They didn’t understand necessarily the cultural significance of that, or the political significance so I realized right then that I wanted to make sure they knew when we went down there that they knew this is incredibly special," explains Kruger.
The team leaves Aug. 1 for a six day trip that is sure to open minds, alter perspectives and form new friendships.
"Well we’re going to do like a jersey exchange and we’re going to take their families out to dinner and stuff and we just hope that we connect with them and they connect with us really well," says second baseman Will Leonard.
The Avengers plan to leave a bunch of equipment with the Cuban team they’ll play against, but Kruger is hoping his team also returns with something invaluable.
"I would like to see them experience kids playing baseball and I think they play all day. I want them to see that and appreciate the passion. I think our kids have a lot passion too, i just want to show them that it’s on a different level," says Kruger.
Rheaume says he hopes to "learn to appreciate our lives here and realize how much we have here".
Though none of them have ever visited, the entire Grosse Pointe team understands baseball is a way of life in Cuba. They know they could learn a thing or two on this trip.
"I think our kids getting to measure their own skills up is going to be an interesting time," says Kruger.