Mystery as Cuban Little League coach disappears at World Series

This is the first time the Cuban team has competed in the tournament  (Little League World Series)
This is the first time the Cuban team has competed in the tournament (Little League World Series)

A Cuban coach has disappeared during his team’s first time competing in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Bayamo Little League coach Jose Perez left the International Grove complex where the team stays during the sporting event on Saturday night. Mr Perez gave no reason for leaving and hasn’t returned since, according to Little League International spokesperson Kevin Fountain.

In a statement, Mr Fountain said: “Little League International has communicated to all appropriate authorities and will ensure the Bayamo Little League team continues to have the best support and experience while in Williamsport.”

Mr Perez is one of two youth baseball coaches for the Cuban team which is led by manager Vladimir Vargas. His disappearance happened hours after Little League and the Cuban Baseball Federation extended their existing union through to 2025.

It’s been widely reported that Mr Perez was seen on security camera footage getting into a vehicle near the International Grove complex at around about 11pm. While Spanish magazine Vizaca claims that Mr Perez has now been found in Barcelona, this is yet to be substantiated by officials or the South Williamsport Police Department and any recent sightings are still unconfirmed.

Little League arranged for Bayamo to play in the series by securing visas for the team and coaches with the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the State Department.

Despite winning a game against Australia on Saturday by 11-0, the Bayamo team was defeated 3-2 by Panama on Sunday and knocked out of the competition.

Little League and Cuba struck up a partnership in 2019 and as part of this, 170 youth programs were created in conjunction with Little League World Series entry. This initiative was developed within Little League World Series expansion plans in 2021, ahead of the 75th Little League Baseball World Series in 2022.

Within a three-year rotation, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Panama all agreed that two teams would be automatically entered into the Little League World Series annually, while the other would earn a place during a regional tournament.

The Independent has contacted South Williamsport Police Department for comment.