Lazaro Garrido let out a huge sigh, one coated in nostalgia as the 67-year-old brought his mind back to that time of his life.
“Ay, linda mi niñez,” he said. His childhood in Cuba was beautiful.
The young Garrido played a lot of baseball — it was his beloved hobby. Garrido said he slept with his baseball glove under his bed.
“They called me Willy — Willy Miranda,” he said, after Guillermo “Willy” Miranda Perez, the late Cuban-born professional baseball player who played in the Major Leagues.
His childhood was beautiful not with Fidel Castro, Garrido pointed out, but with (Fulgencio) Batista — the dictator who in 1959 was overthrown during the Cuban Revolution.
“There was food, there were jobs,” Garrido said. “There were still problems because it was internal, you know, but I never had problems at home over food or over anything in Cuba — over anything.”
Garrido and his friends played in a field of rocks — there were no parks or stadiums with perfectly mowed grass.
(LISTEN: Garrido speaks about his childhood in Cuba in the below audio clip)
“That’s where we played baseball,” he said. “Nowadays, there are lights and people play at night.”
Then came the Comandante, Garrido said, and hunger and necessity followed.
“When it became extreme over there, you had to leave,” he said, “and I came here to the United States.”
He was 33 years old when he left his native country.
Garrido still watches baseball — and basketball, too.
Asked if he wanted to add anything about his childhood, Garrido once again said it was beautiful.
“When it was Batista,” he said. “When it was Fidel, no. When it was Fidel, he said ‘Llego el Comandante (The Commander has arrived)’ and ordered to stop. Then came the hunger.”
(LISTEN: Garrido speaks about his love for baseball in the below audio clip)