“Kit is a darned nice guy who’s helpful and doesn’t expect anything in return,” says Eddie Robinson, a former official with the MLB Players Alumni Association and a Senators teammate of Marrero who played a key role in securing the pension, to which Marrero had not been entitled previously because he wasn’t vested.
Two or three of the four pension payments were delivered by former major leaguer Stan Javier, a resident of the nearby Dominican Republic, Krieger says.
Of Krieger, ex-pitcher Steve Rogers, who works for the Major League Baseball Players Association, says he “was always available to do everything he could to help” in the Marrero case.
With Marrero gone, Krieger is seeking to raise $69,000 for new plaques honoring the members of Cuba’s Hall of Fame. Upon hearing Obama’s announcement last week, Krieger asked Cuba Ball clients to make a Marrero plaque the first priority. During the February visit, Krieger plans to begin working to identify a proper building for the Hall, which is now housed in Havana’s Estadio Latinoamerican.
There will be games to attend, too. Cuban baseball games have far more character than the typical corporate stadium American game. Scorecards and souvenirs are not sold, but makeshift bands entertain the fans.
“I went to a game in San Cristobal, in western Cuba,” Krieger recalls. “A guy hits a homer to win the game, gets on his bike to go home and gets stopped by a fan who gives him a live chicken.
“They’d played on a chain-link-fence field. The seats were concrete slabs, and everyone else watched from the beds of pickup trucks. It was not even a sandlot — it was a farm game.
“For the baseball purists,” he says, “those who love to go to Cuba, it’s a unique baseball culture.”