Grand Street baseball coach returns with same championship expectations
It isn’t easy playing baseball during the cold and rainy days of early spring in New York, but when Grand Street Campus’ coach Melvin Martinez took the field for the first time this year, none of that mattered.
“I was so psyched,” recalled Martinez, who became giddy just remembering the day. “It was freezing, but for me it was a sunny day. Mentally, I felt like it was 90-degrees. I was like a little kid because I was so excited. The kids were freezing, but I was just like, ‘I’m loving every minute of it.’”
Martinez returned to coach his 19th season at Grand Street this year after he sat out all of last season while battling a severe case of what doctors think was the shingles.
“They were taking guesses at Cornell because they really couldn’t understand what happened,” said the 46-year-old Martinez. “I was in good health, I didn’t have high blood pressure, everything was good and all of a sudden something happened. The only thing they could come up with was that I was at a high-risk school.”
It was very scary for Martinez and his family as doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with him. The illness caused a ringing in his ear, and he also suffered a seizure and dealt with memory loss. As a result, his family feared early on that it might have been a brain tumor or possibly a stroke.
“Thank God the MRI was clear,” Martinez said. “There was no brain tumor, which they thought it could be. They said that they saw something that was consistent with what they see with shingles, but instead of exterior it was interior.”
Sitting out the year was tough on Martinez, but he called it the best thing to happen to him. He’s still dealing with the ringing, but it has subsided somewhat. He’s hoping it continues to get better — otherwise he might need a hearing aid as he struggles to hear from his right ear.
It would be hard to tell that he’s still dealing with health issues as Martinez, who has always been one of the more energetic coaches in Brooklyn, seems the same as ever.
“It’s very good to see him back,” said Madison High School’s coach Vincent Caiazza. “When he texted me about the weather, I was kind of surprised to hear from him. I’m glad that he’s back though, and you can quickly tell that he’s the same as ever.”
Despite the fact that Martinez has taken a year off, he jumped right back into things with the same-as-ever championship aspirations.
Grand Street has dealt with injuries to its third and first basemen, Julian Fernandez and Brandon Sinche, but he thinks his pitching staff is enough to carry him. He’s also excited by freshman shortstop Chris Mondesi, who is the nephew of former major leaguer Raul Mondesi and a future first-round draft pick, according to Martinez.
“We’ve been bitten by the injury bug and we took a tough loss [to Madison], but hopefully we’ll bounce back,” Martinez said. “I still feel confident that we can come back. Some of the subs have to step up, and our pitching has to carry us. I think we have the arms to do it.”
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