By José Alejandro Rodríguez Zas
Without a doubt, one of the best baseball directors who have passed through our National Series has been Alfonso Urquiola from Pinar del Río, who after leaving his mark as a player in the domestic classics and the Cuba team, decided to set the tone from the bench, obtaining excellent results inside and outside the island.
Urquiola He played for 19 years in Cuban baseball as a defender at second base, compiling for an offensive average of .286, with 89 home runs and 566 RBIs. He was the batting champion of the I Selective Series in 1975 and was crowned six times as a national starter. With the Cuba team, the native of Pinar del Río won five World Championships, three Pan American Games and two Central American Games.
After his retirement, Urquiola went on to serve as manager, being in charge of directing the national team that faced a two-game cap against the Baltimore Orioles in 1999 and won gold at the Pan American Games that year in Winnipeg, Canada. In addition, he obtained first place in the 1998 World Cup in Italy.
Likewise, Urquiola led the Vegueros de Pinar del Río to obtain the Cuban championship three times: in Series 37 (1998), in the Gold Series (50th edition) in 2011 and in Series 53 (2014). His son, Alexander Urquiola, is the current manager of the team of the westernmost of the Cuban provinces, in the National Baseball Series.
Urquiola’s last appearance as manager was at the beginning of this year 2021, when he was the helmsman of the Chiriquí Federals, a Panamanian team that participated in the Caribbean Series based in Mazatán, Mexico, concluding in fourth place in the contest.
The canalero team added two successes and three failures in the regular stage of the tournament and then lost by the minimum against the Dominican Republic, represented by the Águila Cibaeñas, at the crossroads to go to the final.
In 2015, Urquiola had commanded the Pinar del Río team that took the title in that year’s edition of the Caribbean Series, held in Puerto Rico.
As reported by the journalist Ernesto Amaya Esquivel on his Facebook profile, Alfonso Urquiola will be back on the bench as manager, but this time in the National Professional Baseball Championship of Panama, under the command of the Federals of Chiriquí, current holders of the contest and looking for their sixteenth domestic crown.
The 78th edition of the Panamanian tournament will begin on October 8 and will be attended by 12 teams, divided into two keys. A total of 10 games will be played by each team, against the rivals in their group and the first three will qualify for the next phase of six teams.
Urquiola He has managed several times in Panamanian baseball, since his debut in 2001, achieving first place in local tournaments in 2002 and 2004. He was also manager of the Panamanian national team that participated in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2007, but this will be his first experience in the main Panamanian professional tournament.