The Yard: Fernando Cortez, Former MLB Infielder

The Yard: Fernando Cortez, Former MLB Infielder March 23, 2021

Fernando Cortez, Former MLB Infielder

The former MLB infielder shares how God has led him from bat flipping to house flipping.

Host Marlon Gardinera sits down with former MLB infielder, Fernando Cortez, and talks about how faith and sports have continuously collided throughout his life as an athlete, mentor, and house flipper.

How faith and sports have collided in Fernando’s  life:
  • Fernando Cortez, Former MLB InfielderFernando grew up in the San Diego area, played high school ball at Helix High School, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2001, and played professionally for over a decade. 
  • As a kid in a rough neighborhood, Fernando used sports to dodge local gangs.
  • A small kid, Fernando didn’t hit a significant growth spurt until his freshman year at Grossmont College
  • Raised by a single mom, Fernando’s coaches supported him and his family as mentors and inspirations to stay on the right path in life.
  • Fernando was an All-American in his second year at Grossmont, which brought on a new level of self-confidence.
  • When he landed in New York on his first day of training camp with the Devil Rays organization, he realized that EVERYONE at that level was as good as him or even better!
  • He knew immediately that he needed to do something special to help him stand out.
  • Living away from his home and family was a real struggle in Fernando’s early days.
  • After an ankle injury, Fernando faced his very first rehab stint and couldn’t play for several weeks.
  • His team chaplain invited him to chapel the next weekend, and even though Fernando had no idea what baseball chapel was, he agreed to go.
  • Fernando was the only one to attend – to this day, he doesn’t know if he went because the Holy Spirit was prodding him to hear God’s Word, or if he just felt bad for the guy because no teammates were stepping up to attend.
  • Still with no idea of what baseball chapel, Jesus or church even really are, 19-year-old Fernando asked a simple question: Can God heal my ankle?
  • The chaplain answered “Yes”, which led to a flurry of questions from Fernando regarding life, creation, evolution, the universe, purpose, etc.
  • Before driving back to the training facility, Fernando prayed and asked God to take the steering wheel of his life, right there in the front seat of the car. And his life hasn’t been the same since.
  • What was supposed to be a 5-6 week rehab stint turned out to only take 2½ weeks. In his first at bat after rehab, Fernando drilled an off-the-wall triple. As he was dusting himself off at third base, he recognized God’s blessing.
  • Even though he was far from San Diego, Fernando knew he was not, nor would he ever be, alone.
  • In 2005, in the midst of his fourth year in the minor leagues, his family came to see him play for the Durham Bulls… and he went 0-5, striking out looking in the game’s final at bat.
  • Regardless of that day’s poor performance, he was given his call up to fly to Chicago and make his MLB debut with the Devil Rays.
  • Fernando recognizes this as just another example of God’s mercy – he didn’t deserve a call up that day, but was granted it anyway, and he was never alone.
  • As a 23-year-old prospect, Fernando didn’t get much playing time at the start, so he was sent back down to AAA fairly quickly, where he promptly homered in his first at bat.
  • Given a choice between a ton of money and not playing vs. very little money and playtime, Fernando wanted to play!
  • Over the course of the next several years, Fernando played for the Rays, Royals and White Sox organizations.
  • After a career of hitting home runs and flipping bats, Fernando has transitioned to flipping houses.
  • Even as a young man, he always wanted to work in real estate.
  • Because Fernando’s identity was never in baseball, but rather in serving God, it was easier for him to transition from professional sports to another career.
  • Fernando’s house flipping partner, Chad Decker, also played professional baseball in the Padres organization, so coming up with the name Bat Flips to House Flips was an easy decision for the two.
  • Fernando hasn’t walked away from the game entirely though, as he still offers private one-on-one hitting and fielding lessons for up and comers. (@Fernando.Cortez.Baseball)

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