By Yusseff Díaz
Rey Vicente Anglada is arguably the greatest manager you’ve never heard of. Here’s everything you need to know about the Cuban legend.
The last time Cuba won a Pan-Am title was the manager of the Cuban National Team. The largest of the Antilles has been a magical team when he is in the driver’s seat, “For Cuba, there isn’t any other place but first in any competition. We don’t believe in pressure we believe in championships. We always come out to win and when we are pressured we rise to the occasion,” said Anglada to me last year.
Although Cuba had it worse finish ever in a Pan-Am tournament ever and with probably the most talented team in the tournament. But I think it was more based on the professional talent that plays abroad not buying into the team’s success, than Anglada’s mismanagement. Sources tell me that some of the guys who have professional contracts were more worried about staying healthy than winning a title.
As a manager in Cuba, he won three Serie Nacional titles with Havana’s Industriales Blue Lions. The Havana native is one of the most storied managers in the history of the Cuban National Series and is widely respected as a baseball mind on the island.
A Storied Career
Rey Vicente Anglada played ten years in the Serie Nacional before he was a manager for the national team. He was an offensive spark plug for the Industriales as a player and a perennial member of the national team.
He once hit .422 with a Cuban team played against teams from the Mexican League in a tuneup for the Serie Nacional. Although he holds a Cuban League record with two homers in an inning against Matanzas in 1980, he made his bread and butter on the base paths were he led the Cuban circuit in steals four times.
During his career in Cuba he hit .291 and stole 197 bases in 286 attempts and was quite the showman with the glove. His style of play was one similar to that of Roberto Alomar and if his career was not cut short by false allegations of gambling he would have been arguably the best second baseman in the history of the game in Cuba.
And although these allegations were later disproven they put him in the doghouse of the Cuban Baseball Federation for nearly twenty years. These allegations not only cut short the career of a legend but robbed the fans of the island of the ability to see one of the most talented infielders of his time in the prime of his career.
One Last Dance
He retook the reins of the Industriales in 2018 and took the team to the playoffs with smoke and mirrors. What was a yeomanlike effort fell short when the Blue Lions fell one game short of the league semifinals.
He then was named the manager of the National Team and was tasked to prepare them for the Pan-Am games. The journey started with an incursion in the Can-Am, League, ”We went to the Can-Am in a competitive mode to evaluate our team and set lineups for future competitions against seasoned professionals,” said Rey Vicente Anglada.
”We were trying to put our team in real-life situations but also evaluate our talent”, quipped the manager. After a successful run through the league in which the team finished over .500, it was on to face a tough US collegiate team in a five-game series.
The US team had its way with the Cubans winning four out of five games, but the old professor had his lineup set for the Pan-Am Games, ”During the two incursions in Canada and the United States were able to establish our lineups for the Pan-Am games.”
After the disappointment in Lima it was back to the drawing board with the Lions in Havana for what was announced would be his last year as a manager in the Serie Nacional and like in 2018 he led an undermanned Industriales team to the playoffs but this team the had a semifinals exit at the hands of Camagüey via a sweep, bringing a memorable career to an unceremonious end.
Even with his career-ending on a sour note there is one thing that is a constant that the name Rey Vicente Anglada will always be respected and revered in Cuba.