McCarthy gets rid of baseball staff
Former Marlin Fernandez says school used violations as excuse
After one of the most prolific runs the state has ever seen, the Archbishop McCarthy high school baseball dynasty has come to a close.
Months after a cheating scandal rocked the team, the school has parted ways with longtime coach Rich Bielski and director of baseball operations Alex Fernandez, who together helped lead the Southwest Ranches program to seven state titles in the past eight seasons. The Mavericks, who captured the Class 6A championship in June, finished the year as the nation’s No.1 team in the MaxPreps media composite rankings.
Fernandez told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday that Archbishop McCarthy elected to let him and the rest of the baseball staff go two weeks ago, and he believes the school used the rule violations as an excuse.
Bielski did not immediately return calls; Archbishop McCarthy athletic director Tony Massaro declined to comment on the matter.
“They don’t want to deal with what winning brings,” said Fernandez, who pitched for the Marlins during the team’s 1997 World Series run. “Winning causes trouble, parent [complaints]. They don’t want to handle it.
“I kind of knew it was coming, because we got no support from the school. … We built something so special. It hurts the kids. It’ll be like a YMCA or intramural program now.”
In June, the Florida High School Athletic Association fined the school $16,000 and forced it to vacate all 22 of the team’s regular-season wins for fielding three players who were found to have been ineligible and received impermissible benefits. McCarthy was allowed to keep its state title because none of the ineligible athletes played in the postseason.
Fernandez was hired in 2008 as the school’s baseball director; Bielski was brought on as head coach the next year. Bielski accumulated a 225-53 record as he and Fernandez turned the program into a national power.
The Mavericks reeled off four consecutive state titles from 2010-13 and have won the past three in a row, capped off by the team’s Class 6A championship in June.
In 2011, Bielski was named National Baseball Coach of the Year by USA Today after leading the team to a 29-3 mark. Archbishop McCarthy finished that season as the country’s top-ranked team by USA Today, Baseball America and Perfect Game USA.
Fernandez’s son, Andrew, was the team’s starting catcher last season. He has since graduated and will play at FIU this year.
“It was probably the best program in the country,” Alex Fernandez said. “We loved what we did. We were able to create a lot of great young men who were able to go into the workforce and be successful. That’s what I’m going to miss.”
Fernandez, who spent 11 seasons with the Marlins and Chicago White Sox, said the goal is to keep together the Archbishop staff who helped build the dynasty and repeat the formula at another high school.
Bielski spent 10 seasons as coach at Hialeah High from 1993-2002. Bielski led the school to state titles in 2001 and 2002 before stepping down.