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Baseball Olympic Games 2021 - Official Payoff

Jose Contreras tells WBSC Spanish podcast World Series 2005, Atlanta '96 Gold Medal are career highlights

Jose Contreras tells WBSC Spanish podcast World Series 2005, Atlanta '96 Gold Medal are career highlights
16/04/2021
Playing baseball and representing your country in the Olympic Games doesn’t compare with anything, Contreras says.

Jose Contreras, one of the Cuban baseball greats, was one of the featured guests on episode one of the Spanish edition of The Global Game - A WBSC Podcast. Contreras pitched for five different teams in his 11-season Major League Baseball (MLB) career, which spanned from 2003 and 2013. He won the World Series in 2005 with the Chicago White Sox and was a 2006 All-Star.

However, before his MLB career, the right-hander dominated the international baseball scene with the Cuban National Baseball Team, helping his nation capture gold at the Atlanta 1996 Games and a silver at Sydney 2000.

“I had already played with the Yankees, had played the 2003 World Series when 'Miguelito' Cabrera singled to right field off Roger Clemens, I had already played in Yankee Stadium, and for me, the most important thing was Atlanta '96."

Asked about the process of becoming a big leaguer and his international career, he remarked it was a positive thing to become a proven big leaguer.

"People say to me, 'Wow, you played in front of a packed Yankee Stadium’. But I’ve played before with a full house in Latino [Stadium]. I prepared for three months to go to Atlanta to win a gold medal in 10 games, and if you have a bad start, if you lose two games, you’re out of contention. You are not even going to the final. We had to prepare ourselves physically, mentally to get to all that.”

Playing baseball in the Olympic Games doesn’t compare with anything, Contreras said. “When you get the gold medal, and they start to raise your flag, the tears come out. It is not the same to listen your national anthem in Havana than in Atlanta, with the gold medal around your neck, after you sweated for three months in preparation.”

For many athletes, the Olympic Games are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, says Contreras.

“The Olympic Game are once every four years. It is the sacrifice of four years. If you lose today, you have to wait four more years. A mental mistake, a physical mistake, an error with the glove costs you four years of work. That's why there’s so much pressure in the Olympics.” -- Jose Contreras, one of the few players in the world to have won an Olympic Gold Medal and an MLB World Series.

Reflecting on his career, Contreras recalled the top moments of his baseball career. “The most important moment of my career was the World Series 2005. But the Olympic gold medal is in the same [trophy] case as my World Series ring. The highlights of my career are the World Series 2005 and the Gold Medal in Atlanta 96."