Having finished in the top four nationally every year since 2003, and with a 2006 national championship to their name, the Santa Barbara Foresters are stepping up their presence on a world stage this year.

Bill Pintard, the Foresters’ longtime general manager, announced Monday that his team will play the Cuban national team in Havana in an unprecedented three-game series, June 20-23. The Foresters will travel with some of America’s top college players to take on a Cuban team that will compete in the Summer Olympics in Beijing in August.

The Foresters have been to Cuba once before, visiting in 2005 to play the junior national team and the Cuban League World Series runners-up.

The games this summer will be played at Havana’s famed Estadio Latinoamericano and will be televised across the island nation.

“It’s a great honor for the Foresters to have this chance to play one of the world’s great teams,” Pintard said. “And what a great opportunity for our players, not only from a baseball standpoint, but from a life experience as well.

“On our previous trip, the bond between the players was very evident. After all, they are our brothers in baseball. The game has been played in their country almost as long as it’s been played in ours.”

The Foresters were invited back to Cuba by Higinio Velez, president of the FCBA (Federacaíon Cubana de Beisbol de Aficionados).

“We look forward to having the Santa Barbara team here in Havana for a three-game series,” Velez said. “They played well here in the past and we welcome them back. It is important that we play well in preparation for our Olympic journey.”

Founded in 1991, the Santa Barbara Foresters are a summer-league team and part of the California Collegiate League. They have appeared in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., every year since 1993 and have been in the top four every year since 2003. They were national champions in 2006, and runners-up in 2003 and 2005.

More than 170 former Foresters have signed professional contracts, and more than 20 have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. Current MLB regulars Ryan Church, Dana Eveland, Kevin Frandsen, Matt Garza, James Shields and Ryan Spilborghs, among others, played for the Foresters.

Pintard has led the Foresters for 15 years and is also currently a part-time area scout with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Foresters, their 2008 schedule and their trip to Havana, or call 805.684.0657.

Jim Buckley is the Santa Barbara Foresters’ media coordinator.