ESPN buys rights to Luis Tiant documentary, 'The Lost Son of Havana'

Variety reports that "The Lost Son of Havana" is officially the first film acquired at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

ESPN picked up broadcast rights to the Cuba-set documentary, which follows three-time All Star pitcher

Luis Tiant Chris Cooper


Tiant left Cuba in 1961 and over the next 19 years became a Major League Baseball legend, pitching for both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees and winning over 220 games.

The emotional return of "El Tiante" to his native Cuba included visits to long-lost relatives. The film was directed by award-winning director

Jonathan Hock

, who told New York's Daily News that Tiant seemed particularly struck by the country's poverty.

"[Luis] kept saying, ‘It used to be so beautiful, it used to be so beautiful,’" says Hock of Tiant’s reaction, "and the other thing he kept saying was, ‘I don’t know how to feel, whether I should laugh or cry.’"

"I grew up playing Wiffle ball, trying to pitch like Luis Tiant," Hock said of the 67-year-old former ballplayer. "Traveling with him to Cuba, I discovered he was also playing for the love of his father, a Cuban and Negro League legend he had to leave behind."

Tiant, known for his ever-present cigar (he even has his own line) and an eccentric pitching motion, was among the lucky ones.

Fidel Castro

allowed his parents to visit the States in 1975, where both stayed for 15 months before they died.

But because he was an only child and his parents were dead, Tiant was not, under the rules of the 47-year-old economic embargo, allowed to visit Cuba.

His trip home came about through an amateur baseball team that travels to Cuba every year as a goodwill gesture. Tiant went home legitimately as a coach for the team.

ESPN and ESPN Deportes will broadcast the movie in August in both English and Spanish versions.