KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros owner Jim Crane attended Tuesday's historic game in Havana between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team and was introduced to Cuban President Raul Castro by U.S. President Barack Obama.Crane was invited to the game by Major League Baseball, and attended with minority ownership
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros owner Jim Crane attended Tuesday's historic game in Havana between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team and was introduced to Cuban President Raul Castro by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Crane was invited to the game by Major League Baseball, and attended with minority ownership partner Raul Pedraza, a Cuban-American who is the founder and CEO of Magno International, a Miami-based freight company.
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Crane, who has played golf with Obama on several occasions, said he sent a note to the president prior to the Cuba trip telling him he would be in attendance, and Obama made a point to come and say hello. No sitting U.S. president had visited Cuba since Calvin Coolidge 88 years earlier.
"It was wonderful," Crane told MLB.com on Tuesday night. "The crowd was great. You know, I think [Obama] done a great job [with Cuba], whether you like his politics or not. I think it was great for MLB to get that press and all of us to participate. They have some great ballplayers and they deserve some attention."
Crane said he was with Yankees legend Derek Jeter when Obama called him over to meet Castro, and Obama came back down again and talked to him on his way out. Crane said he and Obama haven't played golf since last year.
"He's a guy that doesn't forget anything," Crane said. "I mean, the guy's unbelievable."
The Rays defeated the Cuban national team, 4-1, on Tuesday afternoon in front of a capacity crowd at the 55,000-seat stadium. Crane said he was thrilled to be part of such a historic game.
"It was fun to see," he said. "It was a great day, a great day for baseball and a great day for Cuba to get that moving in the right direction."
Crane traveled back to Florida following the game and was to preside over an Astros ownership board meeting on Wednesday. Crane and several of the team's minority owners will attend Thursday's Astros game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.