International Sport Relations

Kitchener Panthers Hit Grand Slam

In Signing Three Cuban Baseball Players; Two pitchers with international experience named in time for 2016 season

Kitchener – The Kitchener Panthers, of the Intercounty Baseball League, IBL, have announced the signing of two pitchers from Cuba's Nacional Series. Both pitchers are with the Havana Industriales. A third Cuban player will be announced before the beginning of the 2016 IBL Season.

The two pitchers, Noelvis Entenza a hard throwing right handed starter with an 8-3 record and Ian Rendon, a crafty southpaw have many years’ experience in Cuba’s Nacional Series; the island’s top Baseball League.

The storied Industriales, currently in Cuba's Nacional Series Playoffs, are Cuba's most renowned baseball team, playing in front of boisterous crowds, in Havana's 55,000 capacity Estadio Latinamericano. The Industriales have 12 Nacional series Championships, and have produced many notable players including Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Kendrys Morales, and long-time Industriales All-Star Center Fielder and current Manager, Javier Mendez as well as veteran Cuban National Team stars Alexander Malletta and Carlos Tabares.

The best all-time Cuban shortstop, second baseman combination was German Mesa and Juan Padilla, now Industriales Bench Coach who also played for the Havana Industriales. Baseball experts consider Padilla second only to Roberto Alomar as the best second baseman during their era.

“Last season the Panthers finished second in the league losing a hard fought series to the Barrie Baycats in the Intercounty Baseball League Finals said Panthers General Manager Scott Ballantyne. “The addition of these players from Cuba will help solidify our roster as we look to improve on last season’s second place finish.”

"The negotiation process took six months and involved three trips to Havana, but was well worth the outcome" said Mike Boehmer, Kitchener Panthers Director, and long-time fan and supporter of Cuban baseball. Boehmer went on to say “…at all times the negotiations were very professional and respectful and it was a pleasure to work with Heriberto Suarez, Director Nacional de Beisbol Cuba, Higinio Velez, President Federation Cubana de

Beisbol and Judith Langaney Marrero, International Relations Specialist; all three are part of the National Institute of Sport, Education, and Recreation (INDER) in Cuba.
Suarez and Velez also are presently negotiating a Player Agreement between The Cuban Baseball Federation and Major League Baseball, MLB. Boehmer further commented on the importance to Cuban Baseball, which has experienced many recent player defections, of this imminent Agreement.

Boehmer even travelled to Ottawa to seek guidance from the Cuban Ambassador and First Secretary regarding the negotiations. “The outcome is huge and puts Waterloo Region on a much larger national sporting map” he went on to say.

“We are thrilled and cannot thank Mike Boehmer enough for his tenacity and passion in making this a reality,” said Bill Pegg, President of the Kitchener Panthers. “It is big news for the community, province and country and we hope everyone will respond by coming out to a game, considering Season Tickets or even a general sponsorship.”

“I am delighted at the innovation shown by the entire Kitchener Panthers Baseball organization,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “This bodes well for their upcoming 98th season, making them the longest running franchise in Canadian baseball history.”
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