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Hardball Diplomacy

Little Leaguers prep for a rare trip to Cuba

AS SUMMER wears on and August looms, thousands of Little Leaguers dream about the trip of a lifetime. For most that means traveling to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series, but a group of 11- and 12-year-old New Englanders have something else in mind. On Aug. 9 the Twin State Peregrines, an all-star team from eastern Vermont and western New Hampshire, will fly to Cuba for a 10-day tour. It's a trip few youth teams have taken since the U.S. trade embargo began in 1961. "There's this mysteriousness because [Cuba is] Communist," says Ted Levin, a Peregrines coach. "Yet we have baseball in common. I think our kids can connect with their kids, regardless of what our governments are thinking."

Levin, whose son Jordan is a Peregrine, has traveled to Cuba for his work as a photojournalist; two years ago he and John Carey, a Dartmouth professor of Latin-American politics whose son Sam also plays, hatched a plan for a team to visit the island. After 20 months—and three rejections—the U.S. Department of Treasury approved the trip in April, provided the Peregrines could prove their tour wouldn't benefit the Cuban economy. (The U.S. grants travel licenses to Cuba for public performance, exhibitions or athletic competition, but discourages U.S. citizens from spending money there.) The Peregrines received help from Vermont lieutenant governor Brian Dubie, who has helped broker deals to sell Vermont cows to Cuban farmers, and submitted an itinerary that has the kids staying at a Havana convent and playing Cuban youth teams each day. "We aim to make ourselves helpful to our hosts," Carey says. "If they are working to improve their field, we'd love the opportunity to help them out."

The Peregrines are looking for a little help themselves. Little League International wouldn't sanction the trip because of the embargo, so the team must raise $45,000 for travel costs and solicit donations of uniforms and equipment. In the meantime, the team is practicing for its own version of a World Series. "I've always wanted to play people in a different country," says second baseman Andrew Cawley, 12, of East Corinth, Vt. "I just know they love baseball there."

Go Figure

0 Hits allowed by Angels pitchers Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo in last Saturday's 1--0 loss to the Dodgers, the fifth time since 1900 that a team threw a no-hitter and lost.

210 Career wins for Andy Pettitte.

54 Number of Pettitte's victories that have been saved by Mariano Rivera, one shy of the major league record for a duo. (Dennis Eckersley saved 55 of Bob Welch's wins.)

6--0 Record of Fresno State's baseball team in elimination games in the NCAA tournament; the Bulldogs beat Georgia for the title on June 25.

2 WNBA players who have dunked in a game: Lisa Leslie in 2002 and rookie Candace Parker, who did it in consecutive games for the Sparks last week.

The Art of the Game

WHILE HE was growing up in O'Fallon, Ill., Bernie Fuchs's ambition was to become a trumpet player. But after graduating from Washington University's School of Fine Arts in 1954 he landed a job illustrating car ads in Detroit, and soon he was one of the most sought-after magazine artists in the country. Fuchs's first pieces for SI were paintings of the 1961 Masters (below, middle), and his work has since accompanied scores of SI stories—most recently, a Sept. 5, 2005, article on Negro league star Oscar Charleston (below, left). Fuchs, 76, who has been commissioned to paint portraits of five U.S. presidents, was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1975, and last week the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art opened a retrospective of his career. The exhibit runs through July 26.



WORLDLY SERIES Jordan Levin (left) and his mates will face Cuban youth teams.