Norfolk Tides outfielder shares details of difficult journey to success

Posted at 6:06 PM, May 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-25 18:06:27-04

Norfolk, Va. - Learning a new language may be challenging for Norfolk Tides outfielder Henry Urrutia, but if you knew him, you'd know he's not one to give up.

Urrutia is Cuban.

He was born in Cuba, learned the game in Cuba, and prior to 2011 was considered a rising star in his native country.

But Urrutia had bigger plans. He wanted to be a major leaguer which meant he had to escape his home country and defect.

But it wasn't easy.

Urrutia's only hope was to be smuggled off the island by unreliable boatmen.

"Four times -- two I got caught. Ten days I waited on the coast, then three days, three days riding on the boat."

Urrutia finally made it to Haiti and then to the Dominican Republic where he waited a year and a half before trying out for major league teams.

It was the Orioles who eventually signed him.

"Dream come true for me. It's a dream come true.”

Urrutia left behind all of his family, including his father who was also the manager of the Cuban team Urrutia left behind.

"He knew what he wanted to do since the first time he took off and get caught. He never liked the idea of him leaving the country."

Urrutia now lives in Florida, he's married and has two children.

He's able to talk to his family through social media and Skype, but has not seen them in person in years.

Despite it all, he says he wouldn't change a thing.