By Yusseff Díaz
Ermidelio Urrutia is a legend in Cuba and the patriarch of a baseball family considered royalty in Las Tunas, Cuba. His son Henry is an ex-MLB player and currently a star in the Mexican League. While his cousin Osmani is the last man to hit .400 in Cuba and a six-time Cuban League batting champ.
The older Urrutia was a regular on the Cuba National Team and hit .389 in the 1992 Olympics en route to a gold medal.
Many experts in Cuba considered the outfielder a five-tool player. In his 16 seasons with the Las Tunas Lumberjacks, he hit .310 with 210 homers, 268 doubles, 865 runs batted in, 865 runs scored and 180 stolen bases. Those are remarkable numbers considering Cuba only played a 90 game season at that time.
You debuted with the Cuban National Team hitting .444 in the 1987 Intercontinental Cup. What were your thoughts on your first turn at bat with Cuba?
When a player debuts on a team with such prestige one must be prepared to give their best and earn their keep, especially because every at-bat is vital. Tomorrow isn’t promised on that squad. I felt very confident in every at-bat and my results were a testament to that.
Was the 1992 Cuban Olympic Baseball Team the best ever assembled by the country?
To me it was because heading into that Olympics that team had won 130 straight games, this included a World, Central American and Pan-Am titles. We were also very dominant in Barcelona that year en route to an Olympic title.
In the 1994 World Championship, you hit .614 and drove in 11 runs, while leading the tournament in hits. Did it upset you that you weren’t named MVP?
That year in Nicaragua without a doubt was my best performance ever in a tournament, aside from the 1991 Pan-Am Games. It didn’t bother me at all that I wasn’t named most valuable player, in fact, it was the opposite I was happy with my performance and the performance of our team. Also, the most important thing for me was that we won the tournament.
How did it feel to see your son Henry play professionally for the first time in Venezuela in 2015?
I was very proud to see my son play for the first time in Venezuela and now México. But something makes very happy is that he has played well professionally.
Would you have liked to have played in the Majors?
That thought never really crossed my mind. All I ever wanted to do was represent my country with the national team. I’m very satisfied with how my career turned out.