Little League® International remembers Higinio Vélez, President of the Cuban Baseball Federation. He was 74.
Mr. Vélez, born in Songo La Maya, Santiago, was a highly successful and respected baseball manager. He debuted as manager of the Cuban National Team at the 1987 Pan American Games and managed the Cuban National Team that won the gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Through the 1980s and 90s, Mr. Vélez won four Cuban National Series, three consecutively (1999-2001), as manager of the Santiago de Cuba team. He was also manager of the Cuban team that placed second in the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
In 2007, Mr. Vélez became President of the Cuban Baseball Federation (CBF) and commissioner of Cuban National Series, positions he held until his passing.
“On behalf of everyone at Little League Baseball International in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, I offer my deepest condolences on the loss of our friend Higinio,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “While there are really no words that can ease the pain and sense of loss we all feel, it is my hope there is a small measure of comfort knowing that he is in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Mr. Vélez was instrumental in developing the relationship between the Cuban Baseball Federation and Little League International which now provides thousands of Cuban children the opportunity to benefit from membership in the world’s largest youth baseball program. The partnership brought Little League to approximately 170 local baseball programs and provides support for tournament-related travel, volunteer education and outreach, field renovation and development, and equipment. That same year, Cuba became eligible to participate in the Little League International Tournament.
“The Little League program is eternally grateful for Higinio’s pride and passion on behalf of the Cuban children,” said Mr. Keener. “Equally important to me personally, Higinio became my friend and I’ll miss him dearly. Rest in peace my friend knowing the contribution you made to advance the friendship between our organizations through the simple game of baseball was significant and so greatly appreciated.”