After Weeks of Diplomatic Negotiations, Mother of Florida Marlins Pitcher Livan Hernandez
After Weeks of Diplomatic Negotiations, Mother of Florida Marlins Pitcher Livan Hernandez Watches Her Son Play in Game 7 of World SeriesBy KAREN TESTA
MIAMI (AP) _ The meeting was described as ``one of those incredible moments in sports and life combined.″
After weeks of negotiations, the Cuban government finally allowed Miriam Carreras to travel to the United States where she was reunited with her son, Florida Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez, shortly before Sunday’s World Series Game 7 against Cleveland.
The reunion took place inside Marlins president Don Smiley’s suite at Pro Player Stadium _ much to the surprise and delight of Hernandez who never fully believed it would happen. The sight of his mother quickly dispelled any doubt.
``He didn’t believe it until he saw it,″ said Tony Perez, special assistant to the general manager. Perez immigrated from Cuba in 1960 and failed in 1970 to get permission for his parents to come watch him play in his first World Series with Cincinnati.
A beaming Carreras arrived at Pro Player Stadium in a white stretch limousine and was escorted to the second-level suite by an entourage of friends, police and security guards. She declined to answer a reporter’s questions.
Hernandez arrived moments later and spent 30 minutes with his mother. He had no comment when he left the suite.
``It was just one of those incredible moments in sports and life combined,″ said Jeb Bush, Republican candidate for governor and son of former President George Bush, who arrived moments after Hernandez and his mother had met.
The meeting came after three weeks of negotiations, including a written plea to Cuban officials signed by the Marlins players.
Carreras’ plane landed at Miami International Airport less than two hours before the start of the game. A crowd at the exit of Customs cheered when she entered the concourse.
She waved a teal Marlins cap as the crowd applauded and cheered; a woman who was on the plane from Havana said the atmosphere aboard the aircraft was festive.
``When the pilot announced Livan’s mother was on the plane everyone started cheering,″ said Noemi Andreu of Miami. ``They shouted for her to stand up and she did. She was very emotional.″
Carreras was whisked away by police before she was able to make a statement, after a television reporter charged toward her while a throng of about 40 journalists waited in a designated area as instructed by police.
In Cuba, friends were happy she was at least able to make the last game. Hernandez, who was named MVP of the NL championship series, pitched in Games 2 and 5 of the Series, both won by the Marlins.
``We’re all really happy,″ Margo Serrano, a friend of the family, said by telephone. ``And we know the Marlins are going to win.″
She said Carreras received a six-month visa to visit the United States, and she did not know how long the player’s mother planned to stay. She said family members had been gathering nightly in different homes to watch the World Series.
The U.S. State Department granted her a visa more than a week ago and some had hoped she could be in Miami last weekend to see her son pitch the opening game.
U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, who is in contact with Cuban diplomats in the United States, said Cuba granted Hernandez’s mother permission to leave the country months ago, when she applied to see her son play in the minor leagues.
It was the U.S. side that either rejected or ignored her request to enter the country at that time, Serrano said.
He said that when it became clear she would be allowed entry to see her son pitch in the World Series, the Cubans reprocessed her papers and told him at 6 p.m. Saturday she would be notified she could leave.
Hernandez deserted the Cuban national baseball team during training in Monterrey, Mexico, in September 1995. He spent three months in the Dominican Republic before coming to the United States and signing with the Marlins.
He opened this season by wining his first nine decisions.