Willson Contreras celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

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It’s not difficult to see the pride that Willson Contreras has for his native Venezuela, it lives with his country’s flag colors on his chest protector and an arm sleeve on a daily basis.

Contreras grew up in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela and played multiple sports as child before settling on baseball as his passion. Although Contreras admired other ballplayers as inspirations for his big-league career, his biggest inspiration came closer to home.

“My inspiration came from my mom and dad,” Contreras said. “We had a really tough time growing up and came from a poor neighborhood, which I’m proud of. When you start growing up, you realize that your family comes first.”

That tough time helped Contreras persevere through seven seasons in the Cubs minor leagues system after being signed at 17 years old.

“There were a lot of ups and downs in the minor leagues, which I learned a lot from,” Contreras said. “By the time I got to the big leagues, I realized everything that I had seen and learned since I was kid could stay in my mind to get me what I want to accomplish.”

Contreras’ had a storybook entry into the big leagues on June 19, 2016 when he hit a home run in his first MLB at-bat on the first pitch he saw. From there, it has been a meteoric rise for the Cubs catcher helping break the 108-year World Series drought later in his rookie campaign.
Willson made his first All-Star game appearance in 2018 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. With his family in the stands waving their country’s flag, Contreras homered off Tampa Bay Rays starter Blake Snell once again on the first pitch he saw.

Contreras became the first player to homer on the first pitch of his major-league career as well as the first pitch he saw in an All-Star Game.

“I’m so blessed,” he said to reporters. “It’s a big blessing from God to hit the first pitch homer in a major-league debut and the first-pitch homer in an All-Star Game debut.”

As Contreras touched home plate, he knew exactly where to find his family down the first base line and as a family enjoyed a moment only to be dreamed of in Puerto Cabello.

This season, Contreras got voted as the National League starting catcher for the All-Star Game in Cleveland. He became the first Cubs catcher to be elected a starter at the position since Gabby Hartnett achieved that honor all the way back in 1937.

Contreras is a staple in the Cubs clubhouse and with the fanbase continuing to flourish as the Cubs push for the playoffs. For Contreras, it’s now his time to be the role model and share advice for today’s youth in baseball.

“Dream big and see yourself in a big spot like being in the big leagues, winning the World Series, and never take anything for granted,” Contreras said.

 

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