Rice University baseball team heads to Cuba to play ball and study

- Some Rice University students will get a lesson in cultural studies that takes them out of the classroom and all the way to Cuba.  Talk about the ultimate field trip.  The Rice University baseball team is headed to Cuba tomorrow morning for a 12-day stay.

In baseball terms, if the most exciting college lecture is like sliding into first base, then leaving Houston and studying in Cuba must be more like hitting a grand slam.

“If you told me I was going to Cuba in two years I would have laughed at you.  It's something we're extremely blessed to be able to do and we're excited,” explains sophomore short stop Ford Proctor.

Proctor was a high school senior in Beaumont a couple years back.  Now he and the rest of the Rice University baseball team are headed to a nearly two week school trip to Havana, Cuba.

“It's something that will be a great opportunity and something no one has gotten to do in America in a long time.  We're looking forward to it for sure,” adds Proctor.

”It's a way to establish a friendly connection with the people of Cuba through something that is important for us and for them, which is sports,” explains Luis Duno-Gottberg, a Rice University Latin American studies professor who is chaperoning this rare study abroad trip.

“We have 8 hours of classroom study while we're there,” says Proctor.

“The city of Havana becomes a classroom too.  We're going to walk and see buildings, study architecture, go to museums, see the sights. And in the afternoons, it's baseball,” smiles Professor Duno-Gottberg.

The Rice University players will take on teams from the Cuban Baseball Federation for several exhibition games.  “It's a big deal.  They're going to play in the largest stadium in Cuba, Estadio Latinoamericano,” explains Duno-Gottberg.

President Obama lifted travel restrictions to Cuba nearly two years ago.

This is the first time for the Rice University baseball team to travel to Cuba.  Head baseball coach Wayne Graham played his very first minor league baseball game in Cuba back in 1960.

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