Venezuela's national baseball team was warming up ahead of Tuesday evening's exhibition game against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., when news arrived that President Hugo Chavez had died.
That's when politics may have intruded on the ballfield. Team Venezuela requested a moment of silence before the start of the game but were turned down. The AP reports, "all parties involved — the Marlins, Major League Baseball and Roger Dean Stadium — were not prepared to do so." The Miami Herald's headline: "Moment of silence for Hugo Chavez denied."
"I was told by a Marlins spokesman that they didn’t have enough time to honor the request," the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro told WLRN-Miami Herald News. "They quite obviously did have enough time they just decided not to do so."
The Venezuelan flag in the outfield of Roger Dean Stadium was lowered to half mast for a few minutes during batting practice before being returned to its normal position.
The refusal to honor Team Venezuela's request incensed some Venezuelan fans, including José Manuel Fernández, spokesman for a professional baseball squad in Caracas who lit up Twitter:
Venezuela no debería tener que presionar a MLB para pedir un minuto de silencio. Cuestión de sentido común. Yo no jugara.
— JoséManuelFernández (@joseelmostro) March 5, 2013
His Tweet translates to: "Venezuela shouldn't have to press for a moment of silence from the MLB. It's a matter of common sense. I wouldn't play."
Chavez was a lifelong baseball fan -- Time reports, "he was a good enough pitcher to get a tryout from the pros" -- and a dedicated supporter of Team Venezuela.
"He was a man of baseball," Venezuela manager Luis Sojo told reporters before the game. "He was always aware of the team and who was on it. He was the first call I got in the morning during the tournaments in 2006 and 2009. He lived for baseball."
The Venezuelan players didn't exhibit any emotion on the ballfield as they learned the news. Triple Crown winner and former Marlins first basemen Miguel Cabrera seemed unphased, homering and driving in four runs for Team Venezuela, though he told reporters after the game, "I feel a lot of pain."
The Marlins rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth and won 6-5.