Looking Back at One of Dania’s Finest – Arriaga
At the close of Dania’s 2014 Winter Season, one of Dania’s finest Frontcourters to ever grace
the former “Palace’s” cancha bid adieu. Adoni Echaniz, known to jai-alai aficionados as Arriaga,
walked into the sunset with his shadow illuminating the image of a pelotari hanging up his cesta
for the last time. An all-time legend of the pulchritudinous Merry Festival, #24 had a Dania-
career comparable to America’s best-ever Joey and ‘70’s and ‘80’s star, Juaristi.
Arriving at Dania, having just captured Most Wins titles at Newport and Bridgeport in 1994 and
1995 respectfully, Arriaga made an immediate impact during his rookie campaign, the 1995
Summer Season, capturing the Campeonato. Great court sense, an exceptional right side,
quick feet, and an aura of unmatched confidence were qualities possessed which enabled and
led to one of the most stellar careers witnessed in Dania Jai-Alai’s history. The 6’0” 195-
pounder amassed four Most Wins titles, thirteen Singles Championships, six Frontcourt Doubles
Championships, four Campeonato titles, four Triple Crowns and three Grand Slams. Arriaga’s
thirteen Singles Championship is a Dania record and bests Joey by three such titles.
Along with his in-house titles, Arriaga, the Markina, Spain native had great success representing
Dania in tournaments, especially the annual Citrus Invitational at Orlando Jai-Alai, capturing the
Double Championship twice, once with Felix in ’96 and with J. Arriaga in ’04; Citrus Singles
Championships were captured in ’96, ’98, and 2001. The long list of awards and accolades
might have been more so if not for December 14 th in 2001.
Dania’s superstar Frontcourter suffered a career threatening injury during the last game of the
Sunday Matinee. As many remember, Arriaga was struck in the cheek by an errant rebote. As
one of the game’s top performers, he had graced the pages of “Cigar Aficionado” in a feature
story just nine months prior. In the March/April 2000 edition, the reader only needs to read one
quote, “My goal is to be the best in the world, nothing less.” The excessive force of the lethal
pelota caused two facial fractures, one to an orbital bone. The injury brought back immediate
thought to former Dania Players’ Manager, Fernando Orbea, who in 1968, while considered the
world’s top pelotari at the times, was struck in the head while playing in Spain. Orbea returned
to play, however he was never the same; his injury led to the requirement of all players wearing
helmets. Amazingly, Arriaga overcame not just the physical, but the mental battle to return to
an elite-level of play in short fashion evidenced by his three Triple Crowns and three
Campeonatos following and continued to be a feature-game player for an astounding thirteen
At the time of his retirement, Daniel Love, arguably the best Backcourter in the world during the
height of his playing days at Miami Jai-Alai and in Mexico, considered Amercia’s best-ever in
the backcourt, summed up Arriaga’s career with the following…”A player like Arriaga only
comes into the sport of jai-alai every so often.” Love continued, “For those who were fortunate
enough to watch Arriaga play, they witnessed a true professional who exhibited domination over
Arriaga is joined by only Joey as having their respective #24 and #37 jersey numbers retired at
Dania. High Cesta to One of Dania’s Finest! Arriaga and Joey for sure are in my Top 5
Frontcourters viewed in person along with Miami’s Michelena – “The King”, and Arra – “J.R.”.
Number 5? Many to consider.
Looking forward along with so many others to the return of The World’s Fastest Game on the
Dania cancha sooner than later.