By Yusseff Díaz
Enrique Díaz is the best base stealer we never heard of, in his 26 years in the Cuban circuit he is the all-time stolen base leader with 726. He was similar player to Lou Brock. The speedy infielder is also the all-time hits (2,378), runs scored (1,638) and triples (99) in the Serie Nacional.
In his time in Cuba he played with Havana’s Industriales Blue Lions and the Havana Metropolitans. Díaz also holds the record for stolen bases in a season when he stole 55 bases in the 1990-91 season.
In 2002-03 he was the only player in the Serie Nacional history to score 100 runs in a season, Díaz was known as the “Bullet of Central Havana” , he also saw action in against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1999 exhibition.
You stole 726 bases during your career. What tell did you look for before you stole a base?
I was always a student of the game observing a pitcher’s movements, this was taught to me by my trainers and coaches. This not only taught to me a great base stealer but it also taught me to be an even better player.
Who was the hardest catcher to steal a base off?
Well bases are stolen off a pitcher but are charged to the catcher. There were many great throwing catchers like (Roger) Machado, (Ariel) Pestano and (Yulexis) la Rosa and they were the guys who had the most success at throwing me out.
Who was the hardest pitcher to face in you time in Cuba?
The pitching staff from Matanzas, especially Jorge Luis “Tati” Valdes always gave me a hard time. But Cuba had a lot of great pitcher during that era and they were all very difficult to get a hit off, in Cuba there were no easy pitchers to face.
You saw action against the Orioles in 1999, talk to me about that experience.
It was the first time I faced professional baseball players. Although I entered only as a pinch runner I got a taste of the big league experience. Even though we didn’t win that game it was an unforgettable experience.
You played in an all-star game here in Miami with Orlando “El Duque” Hernández and other Cuban stars in 2018, how did that experience make you feel?
It was a beautiful experience to spend time with my ex-teammates and recall the good old days. But this experience became extra special when I was able to catch up with Euclides Rojas and I was also able to meet many great fans of Cuban baseball during the day.
Do you still follow the Cuban National Series?
Of course I do, baseball is my life.