Urías, González celebrate WS win for Mexico
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Even in a brand-new ballpark more than 1,400 miles from home, the Dodgers had their heritage with them as they celebrated their first World Series title since 1988.
In one of Tuesday’s most symbolic and powerful images, Julio Urías and Victor González broke down in tears as the 24-year-olds embraced near the mound, moments after the final out.
González was the winning pitcher in the Dodgers’ title-clinching 3-1 victory over the Rays. Urías earned the save. Neither allowed a run.
Two left-handed pitchers from Mexico.
One enduring bond.
“I’m so happy,” Urías said in Spanish during an interview for MLB Network. “He’s my brother -- here at the ballpark and away from the field. He’s an important person in my life, and I’m an important person in his life. We’re so happy, and we’re enjoying this dream together.”
Their friendship began in 2012, when the teenagers signed with the Dodgers one month apart, but the multinational context for Tuesday’s triumph began long before they were born.
Chavez Ravine -- home to Dodger Stadium -- was once a heavily Mexican-American community, prior to the stadium’s construction. Two decades later, Fernando Valenzuela’s arrival in the 1980s helped to create an emotional link between the Dodgers and Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles.
Urías and González are the only Mexican-born pitchers to appear for the Dodgers during their streak of eight consecutive National League West titles. Recently, they’ve spoken with reverence about pitching for the organization that older generations of Mexican fans still associate with Valenzuela.
It adds to the franchise legacy that Urías and González are left-handed (like Valenzuela) and contributed significantly to a championship (like Valenzuela, who earned a complete-game victory over the Yankees in Game 3 of the 1981 World Series).
“Man, it’s awesome,” Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen said. “I’ve been around these guys. To watch them compete and learn from [the veterans], and now here they are in a big spot. I’m so happy to see that. Viva Mexico. They deserve it. I’m proud of these guys.”
As Urías hugged teammates and posed for photographs on the field, Mexico’s tricolor flag was draped over his shoulders. When the crowd around him dispersed for a moment, Urías had a clear view of the thousands of Dodgers fans enjoying the scene from the stands at Globe Life Field.
Urías looked up toward them, and the chants began: “JU-LI-O! JU-LI-O!” Several fans held up their own Mexican flags, to connect with Urías over the distance.
During one pause in the celebration, Urías shared with MLB.com that 2020 has included personal heartache for him: He said that two of his great uncles and one of his great aunts died of COVID-19. He said relatives in his hometown of Culiacán have told him how difficult life has been there during the pandemic.
Yet, they’ve continued encouraging him.
“I’m so proud of my country,” Urías said. “I’m so proud of the people who came here to support me. Victor and I can always feel their support, and this is for them. Viva Mexico.”
González’s presence on a Major League mound -- let alone winning Game 6 of the World Series -- is an extraordinary triumph unto itself.
Two years ago, González struggled so badly with injuries and underperformance at Class A Great Lakes that he was ready to retire. He wasn’t fully healthy after Tommy John surgery, and the Dodgers’ player development staff allowed him to take a break at home in México. He returned to the U.S. several weeks later and agreed to finish the year at Rookie-level Ogden.
However, his frustration only continued. At 22, he had a 13.50 ERA at one of the lowest levels of professional baseball. He said during a recent MLB Network interview that he would cry after every outing.
González wanted to quit. Urías, whom he considers a brother, was among those who convinced him to continue.
Last year, González improved enough to reach Triple-A. In February, he arrived to Spring Training needing to win a job in the Minor Leagues in order to avoid being released. He did more than that, impressing Dodgers officials with a powerful sinking fastball and sharp slider -- the pitch he’d eventually use to retire Rays star Randy Arozarena at a pivotal moment in Game 5 of the World Series.
Late on Tuesday, when the time came to shed tears and celebrate a title, the first thing González did was thank his dear friend. And he knew right where to find him: on the mound, after throwing the final pitch.
“I’m grateful for him,” González said of Urías. “He’s given me so much. That’s what I said to him: ‘Thank you for all of the advice.’ The hug was to celebrate the championship. I’m feeling so much happiness to do this in my first year here. Thanks to God, let’s continue this into the future.”
González said his mother, Norma, and grandfather, Guillermo, watched the World Series with extended family members in his hometown of Tuxpan, Nayarit, Mexico. After Game 6, González said he also was thinking about his father, who died when Victor was still a child.
“This,” González said, “is for all of them.”