Fox Sports Net Presents ‘Juego De Pelota’ (“Play Ball”)

Oakland Rattlers Play Ball with Cuba Five-Part Series/ 30-Minute Special Follows Youth Baseball Team to Havana

Premieres Monday, July 9 on "Bay Area Sports Report"

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Fox Sports Net will present "Juego de Pelota" ('Play ball'), a five-part series debuting Monday, July 9 on "Bay Area Sports Report" (10:00 PM). This project allows Northern California viewers to follow a local prep baseball team to the Communist country of Cuba for a rare opportunity to play its Junior National Team.

The series will run the week of July 9-13, and will be shown as a half-hour special Tuesday, July 17 at 7:00 PM. "Juego de Pelota" is produced and reported by Emmy-Award winner J.D. Pruess.

The Oakland Rattlers are a AAU all-star team made up of 20 of the best 16 year olds in the East Bay. Last fall, the team was chosen from a group of 60 teams nationwide to travel to Cuba for a goodwill series of games versus that nation's best players. The four-game series was played last week (June 25-28).

"Juego de Pelota" will follow the team from its first practice in March to the final out in Havana. Series synopsis:

Part One (Monday, July 9)
The series starts off with an introduction of the team and its coach, Eddie Abram. Abram once negotiated the largest contract in sports history when he was the agent of Raghib Ismail. Now he volunteers his time for this eclectic group of baseball players. J.D. Pruess will follow the team on the long trip to the Caribbean and watch the team prepare for its big battle.

Part Two (Tuesday, July 10)
The Rattlers take to the field against Team Cuba in Game One and get a solid effort from Twins Rafael and Juan Mendoza (Skyline and Fremont H.S.) We look at growing up in the cities of Oakland and Havana playing baseball and see how life compares.

Part Three (Wednesday, July 11)
Before visiting the Sports School of Havana, Game Two sees the Rattlers shackled by Cuban pitcher Pedro Jubiel. J.D. Pruess discusses with Pedro what it means to play for the Cuban national team. Pruess sits down with Livan Hernandez to discuss his jump to American freedom and see how Livan is thought of back in his native land.

Part Four (Thursday, July 12)
Playing in a foreign land, the Rattlers' frustrations boil over in Game Three as a near-forfeit is called. Off the field, the Rattlers shake off a tough loss with an immersion into Cuban culture and friendliness with a visit to Old Havana. We will also see how the parents who made the journey view the experience.

Part Five (Friday, July 13)
The Rattlers say goodbye to Cuba with their strongest showing of the series. Game Four is a back-and-forth battle that mirrors the political relationship the two countries have had over the past 42 years. Players from both sides discuss how the series may have aided future dealings with one another and how the event changed their lives.

J.D. Pruess is a frequent contributor to Fox Sports Net's "Bay Area Sports Report" as a reporter and producer. He has worked for Fox Sports Net for the past two years, most recently serving as senior producer and feature reporter for "Stanford Sports Magazine." Pruess recently traveled to Europe for Fox Sports Net for the three-part series "Strangers in a Strange Land," which was shot in Croatia, Germany and Italy. He has won two "Best Sports Segment" Emmys, both in the Northern California competition, in 1999 and 2000.

Fox Sports Net reaches more than 73 million households nationwide and is a service of National Sports Partners, equally owned by Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc., and Fox Entertainment Group. Fox Sports Net Bay Area is a service of Rainbow Sports Networks, a division of Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc. Rainbow Sports Networks incorporates Rainbow's 50% ownership of Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports National Advertising and the ownership and management of 5 regional networks affiliated with Fox Sports Net – Chicago, Florida, New England, Ohio and San Francisco.


Jay dela Cruz

J.D. Pruess