By Yasel Porto
Retired Havana infielder Enrique Díaz left multiple records for Cuban baseball practically unbreakable. And I point out the latter for a series of objective reasons within the current National Series, in which you have to combine quality, longevity and even a bit of good luck to catch up with who was popularly known as “La Bala de Centro Habana”.
Enriquito is the leader for life in positive departments such as hits, triples, runs scored and stolen bases, in addition to games played, times at bat, innings and total double plays on defense, with very high figures as is logical. To this we should add that no one has stolen or stepped on the home plate more times than he has in the same season.
The average durability of the players in the National Series, especially the most outstanding, together with the reduction of games in the tournament calendar, are two elements of enormous weight when considering these primates of the former second baseman practically eternal of Industrial and Metropolitan.
However, one of these records, perhaps the most important of all, is beginning to be increasingly threatened.
It is true that Enriquito’s hallmark was stolen bases, but everyone who knows about baseball is clear that after home runs, RBIs and batting average, hits are the most significant offensive aspect. In fact, to enter the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, surpassing the number of three thousand hits is practically a direct ticket to the hall regardless of what he accumulates in those other sections.
And in the case of Cuba, every time a player reaches closed numbers in this department, such a result generates considerable media reactions.
The native of Central Havana became the king of the undisputed in Cuban baseball a decade ago after leaving behind the 2,356 of the legendary Antonio Pacheco. At the end of the 2011-12 season with the elimination of Metropolitanos and Enrique’s automatic retirement, he left the total number of unstoppable connections at 2,378.
With the passage of time and the premature retirement of great figures from our ball, especially due to the departure through different routes to other leagues, few thought that there would be a new historical leader in hits.
But now a figure worthy of standing out for his lifelong work appears despite the enormous barriers he has had to jump. Among them, as Enriquito happened, the exclusion after 2003 of the national teams.
With 45 years of age and 28 National Series (he was born in Manatí in 1976), the infielder and designated Danel Castro Muñagorri from Las Tunas has just become the third player to reach 2,300 hits in the National Series.
It is clear that it will not be easy for him to shoot 79 more, let alone this baseball season. But with players like Danel, anything is possible.
The number one of the cast from Las Tunas made his debut no less than in the 1993-94 campaign and with his presence in the current fair he has accumulated 28. Impressive without a doubt, also taking into account the level shown by him most of the time.
If the veteran and very popular player within his province decides to play one more year, not only will Enriquito’s most important statistical record be at greater risk, but Castro will be able to aspire to break the 2400 barrier and get closer to the galactic figure of 2500 hits in Cuban baseball. One more merit to consider him as a future member of the Hall of Fame the day he exists with all of the law.
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IN DANGER one of the most important records of Cuban baseball