EXCLUSIVE: Sotomayor declined to give grad address

Bronx-born Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined an invitation from Fordham president Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., to deliver this year’s commencement address, school officials have said.

“The Justice had to decline this year, unfortunately, because of conflicting demands of the speaking tour for her book, My Beloved World,” said Bob Howe, a spokesman for the university.

Sotomayor will, however, be present at Fordham’s graduation ceremony on May 17 at Rose Hill to accept an honorary degree from the university.

Some students on campus expressed confusion last week when the university announced that Tino Martinez, former baseball player and axed hitting coach, had been selected to deliver the commencement address over Sotomayor. (Fordham Daily had reported that administrators were in talks with Sotomayor.)

But Tino’s daughter, Olivia, FCRH ’14, said she has not heard any criticism.

“I have not heard any negative comments about my dad speaking,” Martinez told Fordham Daily via email. “The only thing I have overheard is that some students do not know who he is.”

She was quick to add that she doesn’t blame those students, saying: “[It’s] very understandable because we were very young when he played.”

Howe said there are no hard feelings, and Sotomayor “is on the record as being a fan of both the Yankees and Tino Martinez.”

McShane touted Martinez’s personal character in a press release that was published and then later rescinded by Fordham early last week. (An updated press release has since been published that includes McShane’s quote.)

“By virtue of his Yankee career, he is already a son of the Bronx, and by virtue of his integrity, decency, and commitment to learning, it is our honor to call him now and forever a Fordham Ram,” McShane said.

Still, last July Martinez was forced to resign as hitting coach of the Miami Marlins after allegations surfaced that he had physically and verbally abused players.

When I asked them to do something and they wouldn’t do it, whatever it may be, I thought the way to get through was by being firm with them, and I probably used some four-letter words,” Martinez said at the time. 

Howe brushed off Martinez’s past, saying, “Father McShane stands by the quote.”

Olivia said she has not heard her dad’s speech yet. “I want to hear it for the first time with the rest of the class,” she said. “I know he has been working really hard writing it.”

Tino Martinez worked as a hitting coach for the Miami Marlins last year. (AP)

Tino Martinez worked as a hitting coach for the Miami Marlins last year. (AP)