Miami Welcomes A-Rod, Renames
Christina De Nicola
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - It was supposed to be a celebration of
finished stadium renovations at Friday night’s preseason banquet
for the 2009 University of Miami baseball team.
Instead, national and local press filed in for the “Dinner on
the Diamond” because of the recent admission by 12-time All-Star
and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez of using
performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003.
Rodriguez, who donated $4 million to UM, was in attendance for
the renaming of the stadium to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light
program began with a highlight reel and speech by first-year
Hurricane Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt, the Miami native had
yet to arrive. Anxious attendees seemed to be waiting for the
he did show up with his mother, Lourdes, his oldest daughter,
Natasha, and a few others to sit, kids began to approach him for
signed each ball.
Hocutt wrapped up and called A-Rod to the podium, the slugger
received a standing ovation from the crowd.
got a very nice reception,” said Olivia Bevilacqua, a Barry
University graduate and avid Cane fan. “It won’t be that way
when he’s out there playing ball, but for this purpose I thought
the people were very cordial and it was really, really neat what
they did. I think he dealt with it in a very professional manner
and he didn’t dwell on it. That wasn’t the purpose of tonight.”
speech, Rodriguez began by briefly welcoming the press and
jokingly alluding to the recent media blitz regarding him taking
want to welcome my friends in the back. We travel together. Just
like a family, a dysfunctional family,” he said. “As you all
know, it’s been a very quiet week for me, so it’s really nice to
get out on a Friday night.”
the next seven minutes, the New York Yankee spoke about growing
up in South Florida and almost playing for the program before
signing with the Seattle Mariners, as well as giving some words
of advice to the players.
received another standing ovation and applause at the conclusion
of his speech. The overall university and guest reactions were
both welcoming and accepting.
head coach Jim Morris and guest speaker Laz Gutierrez, who is a
former Hurricane and now acts as a scout for the Boston Red Sox,
only had nice things to say about No. 12 on the all-time home
run leaders list.
bought the ticket way before the press about him came out,” said
Jim Berlin, a Coral Gables, Fla., resident and UM baseball fan.
“I think it went well. The university and the team are bigger
than one individual, and that’s what he’s been saying. No, I
don’t want it dug up anymore. It just doesn’t matter. A person
caught with steroids is not a big deal.”