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Swinging for the Fences

With a World Series Championship under his belt, Bobby Bonilla sets his sights on his place in baseball history.
Kenneth Shouler
From the Print Edition:
Chuck Norris, Jul/Aug 98

(continued from page 5)

Not so fast. Along with the money issue, Huizenga cited south Florida's weather. While only two Marlins home games were rained out, fans at Pro Player Stadium had to sit through 30 rain delays, 19 of which lasted more than an hour. Huizenga asked for a retractable roof, but got little support. So he put the team up for sale to Marlins president Don Smiley for $150 million. Huizenga then set about slashing costs. An investment group was being formed this April to buy the club, but Smiley thinks the team won't be sold until the stadium issue is resolved.

Fans who fell in love with the Marlins last October are outraged. The team, which included players from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other Spanish-speaking nations, made a tight connection with Miami's Latino community, which is now among the most vocal critics of the Marlins organization. A world-championship team is supposed to have at least a chance to repeat, using roughly the same talent it won with. Smiley understands. But he also understands the game's economics. "If we're not the best example of the dire situation the game is in," says Smiley, "I don't know who is."

Starting the season on the disabled list is not where Bonilla wanted to resume baseball after a World Series. Do the recurring injuries nag on a 12-year veteran? "It was just unfortunate that I hurt the Achilles' again and the wrist hurt me. Things are going to happen. Thank God it wasn't major where I couldn't throw the ball or I couldn't swing the bat--that's scary stuff.

"I'm not at all worried about being 35. I'm one of the investors in Performance Imaging. We set people up with home theaters. In five years, people will want to see movies in a nice setting, invite a couple of the guys over to watch Monday Night Football."

Bonilla met his business partner, Mark Risi, when his wife, Migdalia, wanted a satellite dish to watch his games all over the country. So Risi installed the dish. Bonilla, who once studied at New York Institute of Technology, discovered that he shared the techno-lust with Risi and they were soon partners.

But before he devotes all his energies to the home theater business, Bonilla hopes to make his last few years in baseball memorable. A shot at 300, 350 or 400 homers--those are worthwhile goals. Maybe when his swing slows down, Migdalia will get a fuller swing at her goals of trying her hand in business, producing a line of skin products. Any woman who gets you to start smoking cigars is worth it.

Kenneth Shouler, from White Plains, New York, is a regular contributor to Cigar Aficionado and the author of The Real 100 Best Baseball Players of All Time and Why! (Addax Publishing, Lenexa, Kansas, 1998).

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