The Cuban Little League coach disappears during the World Series – in the team’s first-ever appearance in the tournament
- Coach Jose Perez left Little League International Grove on Saturday night.
- The organization did not say whether this was considered a defection.
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A coach of Cuba’s first-ever World Little League team has gone missing, a tournament official said on Monday.
Bayamo Little League coach Jose Perez left Little League International Grove on Saturday night and has not returned.
Perez, a coach with the team, which represents the Cuba region in its first Little League World Series, reportedly gave no reason for leaving.
“Little League International has communicated with all relevant authorities and will ensure the Bayamo Little League team continues to have the best support and experience at Williamsport,” the Little League spokesperson said. International League, Kevin Fountain.
Pérez was one of the two coaches of the Cuban team, led by Vladimir Vargas.
José Pérez, coach of the Cuban Little League team, disappeared during the World Series
Bayamo is the first Cuban team to participate in the Little League World Series
His disappearance came just hours after Little League and the Cuban Baseball Federation extended their relationship until 2025.
Perez was seen on security camera footage getting into a vehicle near the International Grove complex, where the team’s players, managers and coaches are staying during the tournament, around 11 p.m. Saturday night, according to The Independent.
Although the organization said it had contacted the relevant authorities, it did not specify whether it was a defection.
Wednesday marked Cuba’s first game in the LLWS, a 1-0 loss to Japan. After beating Australia 11-1 in the first round of playoffs on Saturday, the Cubans lost 3-2 to Panama on Sunday and were eliminated from the tournament.
However, even after being eliminated, teams typically remain on the Little League campus and play exhibition games for a few days in the area.
A three-year rotation has been established between Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Panama in 2021. As part of the rotation, two teams each year earn an automatic entry into the tournament, and the remaining team competes for a spot in the LLWS through its regional tournament.
To bring Cuban national champions Bayamo to this year’s tournament, Little League worked with the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the State Department to obtain 20 visas for the Cuban team, as well as coaches and baseball officials.