The University of Miami baseball team turned on the lights at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field for the first time in 2015 and invited aficionados in for its annual Fan Fest and Alumni Game on Saturday.
More than 50 Hurricanes alumni attended, ranging from players on last season’s team, to some on the last UM squads to reach the College World Series (2008) or win it (2001), all the way to Larry Adams, the oldest alumni present Saturday who last donned the Hurricanes orange and green in 1950.
UM’s current team beat its collection of alumni 4-1 in a sloppy affair, but it was a festive atmosphere for the roughly 2,000 fans who showed up, slurping Mark Light Field’s signature milkshakes throughout the Hurricanes’ final tuneup before the new season begins.
While fun for the fans and alumni, UM baseball coach Jim Morris always takes this game seriously and wanted to see his team perform a little better with Rutgers coming to Coral Gables to open the season on Friday.
The Hurricanes, ranked No.9 by Baseball America, committed three errors and finished with just seven hits, scoring most of their runs on wild pitches or poor fielding by the alumni.
“I was disappointed with the way we played. We had to play better,” Morris said. “When you play a different squad that doesn’t have your uniform on in an intra-squad game, you play the game differently. We have to get better from that.”
Suffice it to say, most of the alumni didn’t actually play, whether it be because they can’t afford to get injured in an exhibition with their responsibilities for their pro teams or — in Adams’ case — you’re in your 80s. They mostly just enjoyed getting a chance to be back in the dugout with some fellow Canes.
“Even if you play pro ball, these are your real, true friends, the guys that you spent three years together with,” said pitcher E.J. Encinosa, currently in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system.
A lot of the chatter around the Hurricanes old-timers, aside from reminiscing on stories from their playing days, was how the program has to get back to Omaha.
“Our teams were known for working hard and playing as a team. They have to all come together, be on the same page with the same goal,” said Kevin Brown, who was a member of the 1999 and 2001 national championship teams and showed he still has it with a diving snag at first base on Saturday. “We’re very excited to be the last ones to win a national championship, but every year we’re hoping that that next team is going to break through and win it.”
Alumni in attendance, although they didn’t play, included Jon Jay of the St. Louis Cardinals and Yonder Alonso of the San Diego Padres.