Cuba's 2004 Olympic baseball gold medal manager Higinio Vélez passes away
The legendary manager and federation president was an 892-game winner in Cuba's National League. He led the National Team to gold at the 2004 Games in Athens.
The world of baseball is mourning the loss of Higinio Vélez, the president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, who passed away in Cuba on 12 May due to COVID-19 related complications.
Baseball leaders and national federations across the Americas, as well as World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari, shared their shock and condolences with the international baseball community. Cuba's media outlets and politicians, including the president's office, also expressed their sadness and fond memories of the Cuban baseball leader.
The President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, tweeted that COVID-19 is hitting family and dreams.
Baseball Canada, the Dominican Republic Baseball Federation, the Nicaraguan Baseball Federation, the Pan Am Baseball Confederation (COPABE), the Panamanian Professional Baseball League, the Puerto Rican Baseball Federation and the Venezuelan Baseball Federation all shared their sympathies with the Cuban Baseball Federation and community. Born in 1947, Velez graduated in Physical Education. An 892 game-winning manager in the Cuban National League (Serie Nacional), he managed the National Team at the 1987 Pan Am Games, where he earned a gold medal.
He took over as the Cuban National Team manager again in 2001, after leading Santiago de Cuba to three consecutive national championships, 1999-2001.
Vélez led Cuba to a Baseball World Cup title in 2001 in Taiwan, defeating the 2000 Olympic Champions United States in the final. Cuba, under his leadership, won two more World Cups (2003, 2005), an Olympic gold medal (2004) and a silver medal in the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
Vélez had served as the president of the Cuban Baseball Federation since 2008.