Archbishop McCarthy has parted ways with the architects of one of the state’s most memorable baseball championship dynasties.
McCarthy director of baseball operations and former Marlins pitcher Alex Fernandez and veteran coach Rich Bielski, who have guided the Mavericks to seven state titles over the past eight seasons, will no longer be involved with the baseball program.
Fernandez emailed a statement to the Miami Herald and other local media outlets late Wednesday night explaining his side of the story.
Fernandez said he was informed by McCarthy principal Richard Jean at a meeting on July 27 that the coaching staff would not be returning and that the contracts of all paid coaches including Bielski’s would not be renewed. In the statement Fernandez said he was informed by Jean that it was the Archdiocese of Miami’s decision to not retain the coaching staff.
Fernandez stated that he served as Director of Baseball Operations and assistant coach the past 10 years at McCarthy in a volunteer capacity.
“I have decided to end my volunteering to the school due to the lack of support from the Archdiocese of Miami, and the AMHS administration, specifically Jean and [McCarthy athletic director Tony] Massaro,” Fernandez stated in the letter.
McCarthy, which finished the season ranked No. 1 in MaxPreps’ media composite rankings, was forced to forfeit all of its regular season victories in early July and fined nearly $16,000 by the Florida High School Athletic Association after three players were found to have received impermissible benefits.
The Mavericks did not, however, forfeit their state title since the players in question did not participate in any postseason games and advancement to the playoffs was automatic for every team in their district.
Two individuals Laura Cenci and Mike Sagaro, runs the travel baseball team MVP Banditos and is the father of a player on the Mavericks’ team. But neither was a member of the Mavericks’ coaching staff.
“The rule violations were due to a lack of control by school administration specifically by Athletic Director Tony Massaro,” Fernandez stated in the letter. “As per the FHSAA report that was sent to us, this was a school administration issue and did not involve the coaching staff in any way. The FHSAA report specifically said so. In fact, Massaro himself was the administrator who asked the FHSAA to conduct an investigation into the question of impermissible benefits to the players involved.
None of the members of our coaching staff nor myself were mentioned or listed in the FHSAA report and none of us were aware of potential impermissible benefit issues.”
Neither Bielski nor Massaro have returned phone calls from the Miami Herald since Tuesday.
Fernandez, who pitched for the Florida Marlins during their 1997 World Series championship season, joined the program in 2008 and Bielski was brought in the following season.
They quickly turned McCarthy into a national powerhouse winning four consecutive state titles from 2010-2013.
In 2011, the Mavericks were voted national champions by USA Today and Baseball America and Bielski was named the National Coach of the Year by the former.
After losing in the regional finals in 2014, McCarthy bounced back quickly the following season and won three more in succession over the past three seasons.
McCarthy’s seven state titles rank second only to Westminster Christian (11) among South Florida schools.
Bielski, who has a 443-142 career record overall, was hired at McCarthy following a successful stint at Hialeah during which he led the Thoroughbreds to two state championships.
Bielski’s nine state titles ranks him second among all state coaches behind the legendary Rich Hofman, who won 10.
“This is a very unfortunate ending to a great era for Archbishop McCarthy and the Archdiocese after having led the baseball program to unprecedented heights on and off the field with our athletes, alumni, volunteers and coaches,” Fernandez stated. “We are proud of the impact we have made on a vast group of young men and their families.”