Usually, in life people have a role model. Someone you admire and look up to. A motivation that helps you keep going and get better as a professional and a human being in general. In my case, this person is (and always will be) my great-grandfather, Herman “Chiquitin” Ettedgui.
“Chiquitin” (Spanish for “Tiny” in an appreciative way) was inducted into the Venezuelan Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005, and was given the Athletic Citizen of the Year Award in 2009. He was part of one of Venezuela’s biggest sports achievements, when he helped to ensemble the baseball national team that went to Cuba in 1941 to represent Venezuela and would ultimately shock the world by winning the tournament. Throughout all his life, “Chiquitin” practiced all kinds of sports (baseball, soccer, athletics and golf being his favorites). Always a true Navegantes del Magallanes fan ever since his older brother co-founded this Venezuelan baseball team (and he was a native of the state where the team was from). Also, in baseball, he was one of the first scorekeepers of the Venezuelan Baseball League, and in 1949 was the President of the Venezuelan Baseball League.
In soccer, he played as a forward for Union F.C., where he scored 12 goals in the 1940 Division I Venezuelan Soccer League, finishing as the league top scorer during that season.
In athletics, in 1938 he clocked 10 seconds and 50 milliseconds to establish the time record of the 100 meter mark at the Central American and Caribbean Games. Record that belonged to him until it was broken eighteen years later.
Golf was the sport my great-grandfather started playing last, but the one he enjoyed the longest, doing it until the age of 92. Two unforgettable characteristics about him in golf are that he once had a hole in one and that he never used a caddie or a golf cart. He was excellent playing the golf ball out of the sand bunker and knew perfectly how to play only with the driver, putt and three irons he would carry in his golf bag.
“Chiquitin” Ettedgui was an outstanding professional, as well. He excelled as a sports journalist, always remembering without any difficulty the personal statistics of players and group data of teams in all sports. He had the mental ability to talk about a boxing fight that had occurred fifty years back in time and tell you the result, details and highlights of it. His literacy was always impeccable and the sports anecdotes that he shared on the radio, TV or magazines were always well narrated and written.
But above all that, Herman “Chiquitin” Ettedgui was a family man and a great person. He always provided for his family and treated his wife like a queen. He enjoyed the presence and company of his five children, 16 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. He would always take the time to bond with you, to make you feel special and to identify your strengths (and he would speak of them to the whole family and his friends very proudly). He made sure he got us all involved in sports and away from bad habits. And this mission was not only meant to be adopted by his family, but the whole country. In every one of his radio and TV shows we would welcome the audience by saying “Salud deportistas. Gracias por no fumar!” (Cheers athletes. Thank you for not smoking!). That was his opening line and the one that he was identified by over the years.
He was a mentor to many generations of sports journalists in Venezuela and was called “the bible of Venezuelan sports", since he possessed a great deal of knowledge about sports in Venezuela, and knew so much old and new information about sports around the world. Of course that he was also a mentor to me, too. But more than my mentor and great-grandfather, he was my friend. Someone who I always counted on, enjoyed having around, had a good time with, learned so much from and admired.
On this year’s Father’s Day, at the age of 94, he departed to a better place leaving behind his invaluable legacy. A legacy that will keep me, my family and many Venezuelans on going to become better human beings and professionals. He always led by example, and his example will always retain me motivated, extremely proud of him, and learning from him by remembering the great person he was, the priceless moments we shared together, all the things he taught me, and how blessed I was to have such an amazing great-grandfather, friend and good influence in life.
People in Paradise have no idea how fortunate they are to have just welcomed such a great person with such a big heart, values and professionalism. He was well respected and loved in Venezuela. Always charismatic, humble, simple and willing to help others and to do his part to help his country be a better place.
Herman “Chiquitin” Ettedgui --- My Hero. My Motivation. My Role Model. My Mentor. My Great-Grandfather. My Friend. My Everything --- 1917-2012. RIP.
- Y gracias por no fumar!
|"Chiquitin" in action during one of his radio shows. |
Picture from Cristina Ettedgui's album collection.