Coach For Cuba’s LLWS Team Disappears Night Before Elimination Game

According to reports a coach with Cuba’s first-ever Little League World Series team has gone missing.

Bayamo Little League coach Jose Perez left the Little League International Grove late Saturday night and did not return for the team’s Sunday game.

“Little League International has communicated to all appropriate authorities and will ensure the Bayamo Little League team continues to have the best support and experience while in Williamsport,” Little League International spokesperson Kevin Fountain said.

Did The Coach Defect From Cuba?

Nearby security video captured Perez getting into a vehicle along Route 15 near the complex at about 11 p.m. on Saturday night, according to a South Williamsport borough official who had been briefed on the situation. The car then headed south.

Little League and the Cuban Baseball Federation had just extended their relationship to 2025 prior to Perez’s disappearance.

Perez served as one of two coaches for the Cuban team, which is managed by Vladimir Vargas.

The relationship between Little League and Cuba began in 2019 with the affiliation of 170 youth programs and an entry into the LLWS as part of the World Series expansion in 2021.

A three-year rotation was created between Cuba, Puerto Rico and Panama in 2021. Under the rotation, two teams earn an automatic bid to the tournament each year and the remaining team competes for a spot in the LLWS through its regional tournament.

Little League worked with the U.S. Treasury Department, the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the State Department to get 20 visas for the Cuban team, plus coaches and baseball officials.

Bad Juju At The LLWS

This is the second season in a row the LLWS has had a story detract from the play on the field.

Last year then-12-year-old Easton Oliverson fell out of a bunk bed at the LLWS complex in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, just before his Santa Clara-based team was set to become the first ever from Utah to play at the tournament. He suffered a traumatic brain injury.

His father Jace provided an update under a picture of Easton on his first day of eighth grade on the Miracles for Tank Instagram page last week, Aug. 16, on the one year anniversary of the accident that nearly killed his son.

“For Tank to be here with us today is nothing more than to celebrate him and be joyful. My buddy is here today!”, the statement read in part. “With his future having so many unknowns, we will be thankful and grateful for each day! Thank you to everyone who continues to pray for our family and more importantly for Easton and his well-being. Nancy [Jace’s wife and Easton’s mother] and I will forever be humbled and grateful for the endless love our family has felt!”

The LLWS takes place over two weeks and consists of 20 teams. 10 U.S. teams compete in one bracket and 10 international teams in another bracket. The tournament is double-elimination until the U.S. championship and international championship games, which are single-elimination, with those winners advancing to the World Championship game.

The 2023 LLWS championship takes place on Sunday, Aug. 27.

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