TAMPA, Fla. - Former University of Tampa baseball player and Major League Baseball great Tino Martinez has completed his degree and will graduate from UT on Saturday.
Martinez returned to the school where he starred on the diamond from 1986-88 and completed his bachelor's degree requirements in liberal studies with a concentration in business and marketing. Martinez originally signed with the Seattle Mariners after being selected in the first round of the 1988 MLB Draft.
He will be among the list of more than 1,200 students receiving their degrees at the 130th commencement on Saturday. The ceremony will take place at the St. Pete Times Forum at 10 a.m.
After leading Tampa Catholic and Jefferson High Schools to state championships in the mid-1980s, Martinez was drafted in the third round by the Boston Red Sox in 1985. He opted for college, where he spent three years playing for UT, becoming a three-time All-American, an Academic All-American and a fixture in the Spartan record books. Martinez still holds Spartan records for career home runs (54), career batting average (.399), career slugging percentage (.736), single season batting average (.452) and single season slugging percentage (.957).
In 1988, Martinez led the 1988 United States baseball team to the gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He was named MVP of the World Amateur Championships in Parma, Italy, hitting .413 with four home runs and 18 RBI and was named first baseman on The Sporting News College All-America team. That year, he also was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, presented to the country's best amateur player.
The Seattle Mariners drafted Martinez in the first round (14th overall) of the 1988 Major League Baseball draft. After a slew of Triple-A All-star and MVP honors, he made his first appearance in the majors in 1990, beginning a career that would span 16 years and lead him from the Mariners to the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and back to the Yankees.
As one of MLB's most feared hitters, Martinez made his living driving in runs, developing a reputation as a hitter who was most dangerous with runners in scoring position. Martinez's clutch hitting, sure hands and quiet leadership in the locker room made him one of the cornerstones of the greatest baseball dynasties of the century, a team that brought home four World Series victories in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
From 1995 to 1999, Martinez logged 587 RBI, the most in the American League and second in Major League Baseball. He received MLB All-Star honors in 1995 and 1997 and Silver Slugger in 1997, while winning the Home Run Derby in 1997 and finishing second in MVP voting. That same year, with a total of 44 home runs, Martinez became the first Yankee to hit more than 40 home runs since Reggie Jackson in 1980, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Roger Maris. In 1998, he became only the 17th man in the history of baseball to hit a grand slam in a World Series game.
In 2000, Martinez hit an astounding .364 in the postseason, his 24-for-66 falling one hit shy of the all-time record and powering the Yankees to a World Series victory over the Mets. In 2001, he launched one of the greatest hits in World Series history, a bottom-of-the-ninth, two-out, two-run homer that tied the game and paved the way for a 10th-inning win. The bat used to hit that dramatic home run is enshrined in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Martinez retired from professional baseball following the 2005 season after returning to the Yankees for a final year. He left the game with 339 home runs, 1271 RBI and a .995 career fielding percentage in 2023 games played. He spent time as an anchor on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and also assisted for a brief stint on the University of South Florida coaching staff.