Yulieski González: the art of pitching and the combination of dreams
BY REINALDO WOSSAERT SILVA, PHOTOS: JOSÉ(TITO) MERIÑO Y RICARDO LÓPEZ HEVIA
The history of Cuban baseball is filled with great left-handed pitchers. All of them are owners of a long service record and unique moments on the box, that small elevation in the diamond that sees sighs of sadness and sighs of joy, dreams fulfilled and others broken, like a piece of paper.
To illustrate the greatness of the pitchers of the socalled “wrong hand”, there are many names: Santiago Mederos, Jorge Luis Valdés, Omar Ajete or Faustino Corrales, however, a less publicized one also left his mark, Yulieski González.
A native of the municipality of Alquízar, now the province of Artemisa, “El Zurdo de Oro” (golden lefthanded pitcher) as known to his friends and admirers, arrived very early at the National Series, at the age of 17, at a time when the talent and quality of batters was very present on the field.
Men of the stature of Orestes Kindelán, Omar Linares, Antonio Pacheco, José Estrada, Lázaro Vargas, Javier Méndez, Frederich Cepeda and many more, were difficult to dominate, but his dream was to arrive and, little by little, he managed to fit in and make his way into the national elite.
The ex-pitcher himself explains part of his own sporting existence: interest and sacrifice every day, he said exclusively to CubaPLUS Magazine, and also emphasized “working with the coaches to improve control and the combination of pitches”.
Such strategies “allowed me to rise to the challenge, especially with the help of coach Heriberto Collazo, in the youth category, and later of coach Javier Gálvez, one of the best in the country,” he said.
In a short time, Yulieski, with his beloved team Habana, established his level and in 23 seasons he enjoyed many great moments, including his first success, against the defunct capital team Metropolitanos, in their debut in the Latin American stadium, as well as gaining the 2008-2009 campaign title in the final against Villa Clara.
He declared that these were unforgettable experiences, but confessed that he was very excited to pitch in the “Latino” for Industriales, a team for which he had been a fan of, admiring men like Lázaro Vargas, Javier Méndez, Juan Padilla, Germán Mesa and Lázaro Valle, to name some of the luminaries of the capital’s team. Artemisa’s former pitcher has a great love for the titles won with the national team in the World Championship of Holland 2005, Intercontinental Cups of China Taipei 2006 and 2010, as well as in the Central American and Caribbean Sports Games of Cartagena de Indias 2006.
But, he clarifies, playing for Cuba in the first World Classic and bringing home the silver medal was his favorite moment, because of the opportunity to compete with Major League stars like Dominicans David Ortiz and Albert Pujols or the Venezuelan Omar Vizquel, and because of the final result, which “made all the Cuban people proud”.
The achievement, he says, motivated him to move forward and from a distance, analyzing the experience, he thinks that he and the members of the team had the quality to play in the so-called “Big Show”, which is why he sees it as positive that contacts between the Cuban Federation and Major League Baseball can be resumed.
Currently, he works as coach of Alquízar’s team and from his position, he intends to follow in the footsteps of directors such as Jorge Fuentes, Esteban Lombillo, Rey Vicente Anglada and Alfonso Urquiola, his references in that role and with whom he felt very comfortable taking direction.
Apparently, the student learnt well from his teachers, as he celebrated the conquest of the Provincial Championship for the first time in 2020 and now is preparing to continue his work, with the aim of one day leading the Artemisa Hunters in the National Series.