Nine days after the disappointment of falling one vote short of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Golden Era Committee balloting, Tony Oliva had a much happier day Wednesday.

Oliva, a native of Cuba and a three-time batting champion for the Minnesota Twins, told “Outside the Lines” that President Barack Obama’s newly announced steps toward normalizing relations between the U.S. and communist Cuba are “the best thing that can happen for the United States and Cuba and will help both countries.”

The 76-year-old Oliva has three sisters and two brothers who live in Cuba. He visits the country regularly, most recently last month.

“It’s hard to explain all the good things that can come from this for me and my family,” Oliva said. “It’s what I’ve been waiting for for 50 years, and, oh man, this could be great.”

In Washington on Wednesday, Obama said the U.S. is re-establishing long-broken diplomatic relations with Cuba that would mark an end to America’s “outdated approach” to the island nation in a historic shift aimed at ending a half-century of mutual hostility.

Oliva said although the news came as a surprise, he had recently heard rumors in both countries that advancements toward establishing relations soon could be on the horizon.

Advertisements