If you believe World Series-winning Miami Marlins legend Livan Hernandez, his financial situation might be as epically dire as his time on the Marlins mount was epically inspiring.
But then again, that’s what Hernandez claimed in a mid-January deposition in a lawsuit filed against him two years ago by a former friend, who says the retired pitcher borrowed $200,000 from him for a few days but has yet to pay him back.
According to the lawyer representing Key Biscayne investor German Rodriguez, a baseball fan befriended by Hernandez who was talked into lending the money, Hernandez spent an hour trying to convince him that he has nothing left after 13 Major League Baseball seasons and an estimated $50 million in earnings.
It took attorney Robert Frankel more than a year to get Hernandez to appear for a deposition. At one point, law enforcement agencies throughout Florida were instructed to arrest Hernandez and bring him to court in Miami to respond to the lawsuit originally filed in February 2016.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
But the winning pitcher of games 1 and 5 of the 1997 World Series against the Cleveland Indians eventually came and was grilled for an hour about his ability to reimburse German.
“He was a smart ass,” Frankel said, “and he was sarcastic and showed a pretty bad attitude. He kept talking back and threatening me.”
Hernandez, famous for uttering “I lo’ you, Miami” after winning the World Series, told Frankel most of his income these days comes from tutoring kids in the art of pitching, at times one-on-one.
Thing is: Hernandez claims it’s an all-cash business, so quantifying it may be difficult.
“He says he’s got no checking account and no bank account,” Frankel said. “He says his Audi SUV is borrowed from a friend and he pays his utilities with cash.
“His story is pretty difficult to accept.”
According to Frankel, the plot thickened when he received copies of several years of tax returns from Hernandez’s accountant.
Frankel says the paperwork was the strangest he’d ever seen in 38 years of working on financial litigation.
“They are crazy tax returns,” said the lawyer. “There may have been 100 pages of IRS forms that gamblers file with earnings and losses.
“Obviously, Livan is spending most of his time at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, and from what’s on the paperwork, he is playing a lot of slots.”
The winnings aren’t in the big-money range, says Frankel, more like $200 here and $300 there.
Frankel is planning to ask the Miami-Dade County judge who’s hearing the case to force Hernandez’s accountant to turn over chunks of missing financial records.
Last year, Hernandez filed for bankruptcy, but a federal judge rejected his petition when he failed to file the proper forms.
Manuel Vazquez, Hernandez’s attorney in the lawsuit, didn’t reply to a call for comment.