PHOENIX — The words began to spill out of his mouth even before he noticed.
“Mexicanos, al grito de guerra,” he sang. “El acero aprestad y el bridon, y retiemble en sus centros la tierra al sonoro rugir del canon.”
Only then did Ramón Urías realize it was the Himno Nacional Mexicano, sung ahead of Saturday’s Orioles game against the Arizona Diamondbacks because it was Mexican Heritage Night at Chase Field.
For Urías, there was pride in hearing it. The words flowed through him on instinct. For the first time in his Major League Baseball career, Urías said, the Mexican national anthem was played ahead of a game in which he participated, and the occasion was all the more special because his parents were in the crowd at Chase Field, watching their son play in person for the second time this year — and only the second time in his major league career.
Urías’ parents drove four hours from Magdalena de Kino, Mexico, witnessing their son live out his childhood dream in the present.
Chase Field was the first MLB stadium Urías saw in person, when his father took him as a kid to see a game. Urías remembers watching Barry Bonds hit a home run for the San Francisco Giants, and he dreamt of the day he might step onto a major league field in uniform.
“When you play baseball as a kid, you always have those kinds of things. I wanted to be a big leaguer,” Urías said. “It brought memories to me [returning here], and so happy to be a major leaguer now.”
Urías’ parents saw him play for the Orioles for the first time in early April at Camden Yards. They stayed in the States after their other son, Luis Urías, played in the World Baseball Classic for Mexico, and they extended the trip to make it to Baltimore.
Playing in front of them again was a joy; Ramón Urías credits his mother and father with pushing him in baseball, establishing a work ethic that has carried him through to the highest level of the sport.
Of course, perhaps none of this would have happened without the robbery.
Urías was about 4 years old when the school at which Urías’ father worked was robbed of nearly all its athletic equipment. Nearly. When Urías’ father looked at the nearly empty room, all that was left was catcher’s gear. His father brought that mask and chest protector home, and Urías tried the oversize items on.
It was the first introduction to baseball that Urías can remember, and it sparked a lifetime passion with his brother.
The journey hasn’t been straightforward. Urías signed as a 16-year-old with the Texas Rangers and moved away from home to the Dominican Republic academy. The Rangers tried to teach him the catcher position for a month and a half before abandoning the attempt — and then they released him.
Success in the Mexican Pacific Winter League brought Urías to the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization, but he wouldn’t make his debut until 2020 with the Orioles. In Baltimore, the 29-year-old has established himself as a critical utility infielder. He won a Gold Glove award for his work at third base last year.
When he received his Gold Glove award at Baltimore’s 2023 home opener in April, his parents were there, on the field to pose with their son. And when Urías returned to Chase Field over the weekend — the stadium at which Urías first experienced the glitz of Major League Baseball in person — his parents were there again.
“They gave me everything they can to become the player I wanted,” Urías said. “I’m super grateful to them.”
It was only fitting, then, that the Mexican national anthem played ahead of Saturday’s game.
The singers belted it out for the large Mexican-American population in Arizona, and large sections of the crowd sang along. So did Urías on the field, hearing the words he’s long known. For Urías and his parents, the Himno Nacional Mexicano completed the trip.
“That was a pretty cool moment,” Urías said. “That was quite an experience.”