“Viva Cuba Béisbol: A Photographic Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Cuban Baseball,” February 7, 2018, Whittier, CA

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2018, 7:00 P.M.


7031 Founders Hill Road, Whittier, California 

“Regardless of political beliefs, differences in governance, or the chasm between cultures, through the decades there has been one common love that Americans share with our Cuban neighbors. Baseball is Cuba’s unchallenged national pastime and most beloved sport. The phenomenon of baseball on the island is a world unto itself.” – Byron Motley, Embracing Cuba

Byron Motley

In conjunction with its exhibition, “Feeling the Heat: Cuba’s Baseball Heritage” (on view in the display cases in the foyer of the Wardman Library through March 15, 2018), the Institute for Baseball Studies and the Baseball Reliquary present “Viva Cuba Béisbol: A Photographic Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Cuban Baseball,” a lecture/slide presentation by Byron Motley, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at the Wardman Library, 7031 Founders Hill Road, Whittier, California, on the campus of Whittier College. A Los Angeles-based singer, author, photographer, and filmmaker, Motley will also sign copies of his photo book, Embracing Cuba (University of Florida Press, 2015). The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Intrigued by tales of his parents’ long-ago journey to the pre-revolutionary “Pearl of the Antilles,” Byron Motley traveled to Cuba more than a decade ago and instantly fell in love. Year after year, he has returned with his camera to explore its vistas, its people, and its spirit. Granted unprecedented access to the Cuban national baseball teams by the Castro government, Motley set out to capture the spirit of the game which thrives in this rarely seen remarkable world. His images document Cuba’s national obsession; how the sport of baseball transcends politics, captures the hearts of the island, and weaves itself into the fabric of everyday life.

Byron Motley: “Baseball on the Malecon” (2008)

A man of diverse interests and talents, Byron Motley is a critically-acclaimed singer who has performed and recorded with such luminaries as Natalie Cole, Dionne Warwick, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, and others. He has performed on Broadway alongside Patti LuPone, and has been a featured soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra on three separate occasions under the baton of conductor/composer John Williams. Motley regularly lectures on the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues, and co-authored the memoir of his father, umpire Bob Motley, entitled Ruling Over Monarchs, Giants, and Stars: True Tales of Breaking Barriers, Umpiring Baseball Legends, and Wild Adventures in the Negro Leagues. Motley is producing a television documentary, The Negro Baseball Leagues: An American Legacy, and has co-written a screenplay about legendary Negro Leagues executive Effa Manley, the first woman to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which will be produced and directed by Penny Marshall. An award-winning photographer, Motley’s work has been shown in galleries and museums in the United States, Europe, and Cuba, and has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Advocate, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.

Byron Motley: “Conrado Marrero” (2008)

In addition to Byron Motley’s presentation, Whittier College professor and Institute for Baseball Studies co-director Joe Price will speak about his January 2018 course, “Cuba: Baseball as a Caribbean Religion,” and share some of the experiences that he and his students had in Cuba.

“Viva Cuba Béisbol: A Photographic Journey Into the Heart and Soul of Cuban Baseball” is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.  For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at terymar@earthlink.net.  For directions and parking, phone the Wardman Library at (562) 907-4247 during library hours.

“Embracing Cuba” by Byron Motley

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