One year after near-retirement, Grand Street coach on verge of city title

Posted: June 8, 2012 at 3:20 am

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After another disappointing playoff finish last June, Melvin Martinez gathered his team together in the stands at MCU Park. There, shocking everyone from longtime players to assistant coaches he has known all his life Martinez announced his plans to retire.

I felt like they needed a new coach, Martinez said on the eve of leading second-seeded Grand Street into its first baseball final against No. 4 George Washington Friday at 7 p.m. in Coney Island. Ive had some great talent for so many years. Not to ever make the championship, maybe its the coaching. I was beginning to feel like someone else should take over.

Christina Santucci

Grand Street Campus coach Melvin Martinez nearly retired after last season, but stuck with it and has the Wolves within one win of their first city title.

The response shocked Martinez. Virtually the entire team, fresh off a humbling sweep at the hands of Tottenville, reacted with anger and disbelief. In the coming days and weeks, he was borderline harassed by players to stay, ace left-hander Gerry Gonzalez, Maryland-bound shortstop Jose Cuas and catcher/third baseman Ernesto Lopez leading the charge.

Lopez, in fact, threatened to quit and Cuas said he and his younger brother Alex came to Grand Street because of Martinez.

We wanted to win a ring with him, Lopez said. We told him, next year, our last year, dont do that to us. We were trying to do anything to make him stay.

The team went to Martinezs wife, Lori, too, begging her to convince him. Over the summer, he mulled over the decision, weighing the positives and negatives. In August, at Loris urging, he relented and decided to return.

She knew I would be depressed if I wasnt coaching, said the 43-year-old Martinez, an assistant principal at P.S. 257 in Brooklyn.

Early in September, he sent out a text to the team for fall practice. There, the teams leaders promised Martinez a title, which they are one win away from. Martinez, in his 17th season, has been reinvigorated this spring, coaching this loaded team that has won 20 straight games against PSAL foes after a surprising league-opening loss to Midwood.

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One year after near-retirement, Grand Street coach on verge of city title

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June 8th, 2012 at 3:20 am

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