For approximately twenty years I have woken up many weekends with a particular tune that at first was a bit annoying but that I now consider familiar and I dare say that I might even miss it. It is the sound of a man who, through the public address system and between songs – always Latin – announces the name of a player whom he calls “left, center or right fielder.” In it baseball, an outfielder is each of the three players who stand in the position furthest from the batter, an area known as the outfield. There are three areas in the garden, each with its respective player. This sport emerged in the mid-19th century in the United States, inspired by British sports such as cricket. Starting in 1903, baseball became the most popular American sport with a presence among young schoolchildren, university students, etc. The hobby moved to other countries in Central America and the Caribbean where it is very popular, especially in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba, the first country to form a baseball league after the United States. But how do you get to Puerto de la Cruz?
It was precisely in Cuba where Néstor Pérez Suárez, founder of the Puerto de la Cruz Marlins Club in 1997, was born. Néstor arrived in Spain with a round-trip ticket because his intention as coach of the elite Cuban team was to return to his country after concluding the collaboration contract signed with the Spanish National Baseball Federation. After visiting Barcelona and Tenerife, and with the few future prospects that Cuba offered, he decided to start a new life project here linked to his true passion: baseball. With the start of the School Games of Council He began to publicize this sport, somewhat unknown on the Island, and to advise the small youth that existed at that time. «He visited the schools of Punta Brava, La Vera, Cesar Manrique, Iriarte… This is how the Marlins CD was born. “A name copied from the Florida Marlins,” he tells us. In the year of the birth of this club, Néstor was already directing the Canary Islands team and began to accumulate awards in the different categories (children and cadets).
From those times, Néstor remembers some outstanding players who stood out in the Port and who have become great figures like Eric Gonzalez Díaz, born in San Juan de la Rambla, who obtained different sports scholarships to study in the United States and has played in the professional league, becoming a better pitcher (pitcher).
In 2001 he was named national coach despite the political problems that came with being a well-known sports figure in Cuba and considered a traitor there for leaving his country. It is in that year when the Marlins promote First division and then to the Honor Division, taking the name of Tenerife to the top. In those times, the team trained on a soccer field that was dirt until the Cabildo, in 2006, converted it into the Insular Baseball Center in El Burgado that bears its name. Known in the world of baseball worldwide with the nickname Big Show, since 2020 the founder and honorary president of the Marlins has been part of the Hall of Fame of the Royal Spanish Baseball and Softball Federation, which includes women.
In the small office where we meet, the trophies are piled up, some of them in the display cases and others on the floor because there is no room for more. It is the club with the most national league titles in the top category with fourteen league titles won, six King’s Cups and three European Cups.
Néstor has passed the baton to his son as general director of the club, although he continues as technical manager looking after the youth teams to support the youth team and continue achieving success. He combines this work with being an international scout for the Los Angeles Dogers. Baseball scouts are a type of talent scout to find future figures who will stand out in the most important baseball leagues in the world.
Néstor Pérez Alonso has followed in the footsteps of his father, who instilled in him his passion for this sport from a very young age. When he left Cuba at the age of 19, he was already a baseball figure there and it was not easy for him to get his passport to freedom. He remembers how some police officers told him that he could never leave that country and that he would never see the “traitor” of his father again. Fortunately that did not happen and the mediation of Isidoro Sánchez, who at that time was a MEP, facilitated his entry into Spain. From here he jumped to the US to play for the Tampa Devil Rays, also participating in the Spanish team. In 2005 he was named best player in Europe and this year he was champion with the Atlanta team in the Rocky League.
Both father and son are proud of the achievements made by the team and insist on the importance of this sport, which in the case of Tenerife has served as a means of social integration for people who have come from Cuba and Venezuela, “Spanish returnees who, through sport, have managed to integrate into Canarian society.
This is the case of three young people who arrived a few years ago with their families also from Cuba. Pablo Costales, Héctor Cabrera and Kevin Rodríguez have baseball in their blood and have played it since they were children. The Marlins gave him the opportunity to continue here playing what they like most and in this way it has been easier for them to adapt to this new environment. All three also play for the Spanish national team and their idea is to continue with a scholarship that will also allow them to study in the United States. The practice of sport implies discipline and responsibility, which is why baseball has also served as a preventive instrument to avoid other risks inherent to their age. Andrés Annunziata is now spending his holidays in Tenerife. He arrived here in 2016 at the age of 17 and after spending a period with the Marlins he now lives in Rome with his family and plays in the Italian professional league.
Tourism promotion of the Island
Another positive aspect that goes beyond the sporting field is related to tourism promotion, which has an impact on the increase in visitors from all over the world, mainly from Europe, who come to Puerto de la Cruz to participate in the different organized competitions. Without going any further, during the next few days and until the middle of next December two notable events will be held such as the VI Winter League, Sub13, Sub15 and Sub18, which will serve to unveil future stars, and the III Eurobaseball Winter League, organized by federations Canary Islands, Spanish and European that will bring together a significant number of players from all over Europe. Women are not exempt from participating in a sport that is not exclusive. A few years ago, girls from the Pureza de María de Los Realejos School participated, but finally, when their school years ended, they left. Despite this, the incorporation of girls who want to get to know baseball up close is not ruled out.
Tenerife has everything to become the flagship of this sport in Europe. We have the ideal climate to host top-level sporting events throughout the year but, above all, we have a youth team capable of keeping the Marlins at the top. Now all that remains is to have a stadium that meets the expectations of a club that has reached the highest levels. The trophies piled up on the floor are just a reflection of a situation of neglect that a team of these characteristics does not deserve. Néstor is clear about the necessary investments that have been demanded for a long time, now they just need a little political interest.
Photos of the Puerto de la Cruz Marlins. Above, Néstor Pérez Suárez and his son. The club has won so many trophies that it has run out of space and some are on the ground (left).