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Martinez will see Miami from the other side

The SportsXchange

J.D. Martinez was there in person the night Miami became the center of the major-league baseball universe.

Martinez was one of those screaming themselves hoarse when the Marlins' Craig Counsell stepped on home plate to score the winning run in Game 7 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.

"I was sitting way up there, in the right field corner, next to God," Martinez said. "They won it and my dad gave me $100. As soon as Edgar Renteria hit the (winning) single up the middle, he says,"

Martinez doesn't have to pay his way into ballparks anymore. A former 20th-round draft choice, he is entrenched as the Astros' starting left fielder and No. 3 hitter.

Come Friday, Saturday and Sunday, he'll play for the first time against the team he rooted for as an aspiring big-leaguer. Martinez, 24, will playing in the second, third and fourth official games in Marlins Stadium.

"It's exciting, because Miami has never really had a baseball stadium," Martinez said. "I never knew what a baseball stadium was until I got called up and went to Milwaukee and then I came here. I went, 'This is what a baseball stadium is,' not Pro Player Stadium or Dolphin Stadium.

"It was miserable to watch games in. It's outside and 90-something degrees in the summer. You don't want to watch a game like that. You're dying. You had to really love watching the Marlins. You wouldn't just go, 'Oh, the Marlins are playing tonight. Let's go watch them.'"

Martinez's family had season tickets for several seasons. The first favorite he remembers was catcher Benito Santiago. Later, Martinez took to Gary Sheffield and Miguel Cabrera.

Julio and Myra Martinez have scraped up some 150 tickets for the grand occasion of their son's homecoming. There are plans for his college baseball team, Nova Southeastern University, to attend Sunday's dame.

Martinez is expecting a contingent from Charles Flanagan High to drop in on the hometown by who has made good enough to own a .364 average, with two home runs and six RBI in the first six games.

"It's just going to be cool going back and seeing people I went to high school with in the stands, people who have known me my whole life," Martinez said.
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