Members of the South Florida media were able to pretend that they were Major League sluggers last Thursday thanks to former White Sox and Marlins pitcher Alex Fernandez.
Fernandez, who pitched for UM in the late 80s, was at the Boys and Girls Club in Coconut Grove to promote the latest line of Nike baseball bats, which the Hurricane baseball team used last weekend against Florida State. The Miami native pitched batting practice to all of the reporters in attendance, and the two reporters who hit the most home runs were rewarded for their efforts.
The 33 year-old pitcher had 107 wins in 10 full seasons in Chicago and Florida. His best season was in 1993 with the White Sox, going 18-9 with a 3.13 ERA.
Fernandez now spends his time pursuing a career in real estate, but is still involved with baseball in Florida.
“I enjoy spending my time coaching my Little League team,” Fernandez said. “Doing that and working in real estate building homes takes up most of my time.”
Fernandez was connected to Nike during his playing days, as he always wore Nike gear on the mound. That was how he got in touch with the famous company to help promote the new product.
“I’ve had a friendship with Nike since my playing days,” Fernandez said. “They asked me to come out here and help them out and I was happy to.”
As far as the bat itself, Fernandez got a chance to try it out after the reporters finished their swings, taking a few hacks which resulted in about eight or nine home runs, somewhat impressive for a pitcher.
“I think the bat is a good product,” Fernandez said. “I can’t really compare it to the other bats, but I would definitely say that this is a high quality product.”
For the record, sports editor Jeremy Marks-Peltz and yours truly competed in the home run derby. Marks-Peltz put up a goose egg, while this reporter managed to hit one ball out of the park.
After failing to homer, Marks-Peltz went on an expletive-laced tirade. As a favor to the sports editor, his abundant vulgarity will not be printed here.
Fernandez, whose language was appropriate for family viewing, also talked about his experiences at UM, which produced a lifetime of memories for him in only a year and a half.
“I had a great experience at Miami as both a student and a ballplayer,” Fernandez said. “I am still a huge Hurricanes fan.”
Fernandez has taken time from his busy schedule to follow this year’s baseball team. He feels that the team has a chance to go a long way.
“I’ve been able to catch some of the games and keep track of how they have been doing,” Fernandez said. “They have had a few bad breaks so far, but I still think that they have a good chance to get to Omaha.”
Fernandez said he was glad to be able to come out and joke around with the media, and enjoyed watching some of us hit, or attempt to hit his pitching.
“Overall, I had a really good time,” Fernandez said. “It was fun watching media guys who haven’t picked up a bat in a long time take some swings and I hope everyone else had a good time.”
Eric Kalis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org