10 News Sports Anchor Dave Wirth sat down with Tampa baseball legend Tino Martinez, to talk about his new job with the Marlins; staying clean during the steroid era; and his glorious 3 years at the University of Tampa.
"I tell people all the time, I got drafted out of high school, by the Boston Red Sox... And coming here to the University of Tampa was one of the best decisions I ever made," Tino Martinez told 10 News. "I became a better player in the 3 years I was here, I got an education here... Whenever I drive by the ballpark, or in the neighborhood, I think of all the great games, against Florida Southern our rival, the great teams I played on here, the friends I made... So many great memories happened right here in this ballpark, at this university, so it's been a great place for me."
In his 16-year major league career, Tino's best years were the 6 he spent in New York, playing for the Yankees... And winning 4 World Series Championships. A lot of players can't adapt to playing baseball in the pressure-cooker of New York, but Tino flourished there.
"I liked it a lot," said Tino. "When I was a visiting player for the Seattle Mariners, every time I went to Yankee Stadium, I loved the ballpark, I loved the atmosphere, the fans were always pulling for the Yankees, they were in the game every night... I thought it was the greatest atmosphere to play in."
The next chapter in his life, will be in Miami... As hitting coach for the Marlins... He finally gave in to Owner Jeffrey Loria's persistence.
When asked if he was sure he wanted to get back into the daily grind of baseball, Tino said he wasn't completely sure either.
"I was offered a couple of jobs the last couple of years and turned them down because I wasn't interested in the travel... I loved the games... But the travel is one thing that kept me out of it... The more I thought about it, and the opportunity with the Marlins, close to my home in Tampa, easy for my family to get back and forth from, I thought it was a great opportunity and a great situation to go into."
Tino played in the steroid era, in the 1990's and early 2000's. But he stayed clean... Seeing players hit 600, 700 home runs, though, made him wonder.
"Looking at the success those guys have had and the amount of home runs they had," said Tino. "Sometimes as a player I questioned myself, should I have done more, just to compete with those guys... But looking back, now that my career is over, I'm very pleased I did it the right way, and my numbers are what they are."
Tino Martinez finished his 16-year major league career with 339 home runs, 1,271 RBI's, a .271 batting average... and 4 World Series Championships with the Yankees.
He also ranks 5th on the All-Time Yankees list for post-season games played.