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Updated: November 1, 2018
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...Peter C. Bjarkman...
(1941 - 2018)
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Wellknown baseball-historian and journalist Peter Bjarkman passed away

HAVANA (Cuba) - Peter Bjarkman, the very wellknown and much appraised American baseball-historian and journalist, unexpectedly passed away on Monday, October 1 at age 77, after suffering a heart attack in Cuban capital Havana.

Bjarkman was especially known for his enormous knowledge of the history of baseball on Cuba, the country he frequently visited. On October 1, he was at the airport in Havana for a return-trip to the USA when he was stricken with a heart attack before boarding his plane. It was reported that he didn't feel well the week before leaving, but nevertheless he wanted to make another baseball-trip to beloved Cuba.

Peter C. Bjarkman, who always called Cuba his 'second home', was born on May 19, 1941 in Hartford, Connecticut. There, he attended the University of Hartford, where he played baseball and basketball. He graduated with a degree in English education and later earned two master's degrees. Later, Bjarkman went on to teach English in high schools and several universities. But he also was teaching English on American bi-national schools in Bucaramanga (Colombia) (late sixties) and Guayaquil (Ecuador) (early seventies). There, he became fluent in Spanish, which helped him in later years during his travels to Cuba. He first traveled to the Central American country in 1997, which was the beginning of a long association and especially with Cuban baseball.

After becoming a freelance writer in the late eighties, for more than 30 years, Bjarkman wrote about sports, especially baseball and basketball. Bjarkman extensively researched the history of Cuban baseball and unraveled many stories of the most popular sport in the island-country. In all those years, Bjarkman wrote enthusiastically and passionately about baseball and especially about Cuban baseball.

...Peter Bjarkman with the book of...
...the history of 100 year baseball... the Netherlands, presented to...
...him during the 2012...
...Haarlem Baseball Week...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Bjarkman became wellknown for his extensive knowledge of Cuban baseball. Not only within the USA, but also in Cuba itself, where he also was a beloved baseball-fan and getting to know many players, coaches and executives personally. His sudden death is a big shock for his many friends worldwide. Four days after he passed away, members of the Peña MLB Cuba from Havana paid tribute to their longtime friend. The members of the group discuss baseball every Friday and when in Cuba, Bjarkman always visted them. His Cuban friends laid down flowers in front of a picture of Bjarkman that was framed by a Cuban and American flag.

Bjarkman wrote more than 40 books on sports history, including studies, as well as pictorial books. Many of these books regarded the history of Major League Baseball, the history of basketball and some biographies. Several of those books concerned Cuban baseball, as well at Latin-American baseball. In 2007, he wrote A History of Cuban Baseball, which is considered the definitive work on this subject. For his many works, Bjarkman won several awards.

As historian and author, Bjarkman also regularly was a guest on radio and television sports talkshows to give interviews about Cuban baseball. He also contributed to several documentaries about baseball, produced by ESPN and Major League Baseball. He was a major contributor to the 2011 documentary No Reservations Cuba from American producer Anthony Bourdain, who passed away in June of this year. That documentary was part of a travel series made for the Travel Channel which focused on different countries. In the Cuban episode, Bjarkman was Bourdain's guide for Cuban baseball. During one of his visits to the Netherlands, he also was interviewed for national television sports program NOS Studio Sport. In recent years, Bjarkman was a contributor to several websites that covered Cuban baseball, including some Spanish-language sites.

...Peter Bjarkman with Grand Slam-webmaster...
...Marco Stoovelaar during the Final of the 2009...
...World Baseball Championship in Nettuno (Italy)...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Through the years, Bjarkman traveled around the world to follow the Cuban National Baseball Team. Not only to see the team play, but also to cover the games Cuba played in international events, including all four World Baseball Classics (2006, 2009, 2013, 2017), World Championships (including 2005 in the Netherlands, 2009 in Europe and 2011 in Panama), Pan-American Games, Central American Games, Intercontinental Cups and much more. Bjarkman traveled frequently to Latin America, but also to Japan and several European countries, especially Croatia, but also Italy and the Netherlands. He was an almost yearly visitor of the Netherlands, where he attended the Haarlem Baseball Week in Haarlem and the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam. In both international tournaments, Cuba is a regular participant. During his travels, Bjarkman was mostly wore a Cuban jacket, as well a cap donned with the 'C' of Cuba.

When you met and sat besides Peter Bjarkman on the press stands, you know you would have a wonderful afternoon or evening. Full of passion and always with a broad smile on his face, he told about Cuban baseball, his trips to the island and the history of the sport. On a personal note, I've had the privilege to sit besides Peter several times and always enjoyed his stories.

The webmaster of Grand Slam * Stats & News offers his condolences to the family of Peter and wishes them a lot of strength with this huge loss.

(November 1)

...Left: Peter Bjarkman with colleagues from the Cuban Radio during the 2009 World Baseball Championship in Italy...
...Right: Peter makes notes during a game of Cuba during the 2011 World Port Tournament in Rotterdam (Netherlands)...

...Representing the press-corps, Peter Bjarkman handed out the Press Award to Cuban player Ariel Pestano...
...during the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Haarlem Baseball Week in Haarlem (Netherlands)...
(© All Photos: Marco Stoovelaar)

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