Cardozo Senior Andrew Nunez Shines On and Off the Field
It is a chilly, overcast spring day, and it doesn’t seem like baseball weather. But two varsity teams met at Cunningham Park to work out the kinks and prepare for the upcoming baseball season, which started in early April. St. Francis Prep, one of the top catholic teams in the city, met the Judges from Cardozo High School in a friendly exhibition game.
The weather was so cold that, during the game, the Cardozo coach told players sitting on the bench, to get up and run around the field to keep active. This is all part of putting in the work that it takes to become a varsity baseball player; you put up with the annoyances of the cold weather so you have enough at-bats to be ready when the warm weather starts.
Andrew Nunez, 17, starting centerfielder and a senior, is entering his last high school season. Cardozo has a 2-1 record in the early season and needs a good year from Nunez. Nunez gets high praise from his coach and those who know his game. “If he gets going this year, he is going to open up a lot of eyes,” said his coach, Ron Gorecki.
“He can hit with power, he throws, he plays great defense, and he has a 95 grade point average,” said Michael Estrada, a parent of Cardozo’s teammate, pitcher Chris Estrada. Estrada follows the team closely and knows Nunez’s potential. “Great Speed, power into the alleys, he’s a great leader.”
Estrada manages a baseball summer league team comprised of boys who play high school ball in Queens. Estrada’s team plays 60 games, many of which are against warm-weather high school teams from Florida and California in competitive tournaments. “You see where you really are,” said Estrada.
Back in Cunningham Park, on a cloudy cold day, Nunez is getting ready for his last season. “Granted, this isn’t the best weather, but I’m happy to be out here,” Nunez said. “Our team is young. It’s full of life, full of energy. I think we can use that energy to get us through any hardships, to keep us going.”
Nunez also excels in his classes. He has kept up a 95 grade point average for almost four years of high school and is a member of the Arista Honor Society at school. Nunez will attend Caldwell College, a small liberal arts college, in the fall and will play baseball on the Caldwell Cougars Division II team. He earned an academic scholarship, which will provide him with $18,000 per year to help pay for tuition and expenses. “I was excited when I heard about it,” said Nunez. “On top of that, I knew I was going to be able to play baseball there.”
When asked how he keeps up his studies, Nunez shrugs and says, “It’s hard. Lots of nights,” he said. “My father makes sure I do well in all my classes.” He currently takes five courses and has earned four A’s and one B, in media studies. “I want to maintain that average, I’ve done it for four years,” Nunez states. “I want to do it.”
Nunez’s father, Frank Nunez, a corrections officer, is at the game keeping a respectful distance on the grass behind the foul lines. He seems to be watching the game like a hawk. Frank says that he and his mother both stress that Andrew keep his focus on his academics. “How many young players out there are trying to become professionals?” he said. “You have to have school to fall back on.” He knows his son loves to play baseball, but the father has concerns. “If this doesn’t pan out for him, he’s got a professional career to fall back on, whatever he chooses to do.”
Nunez catches a ball hit toward the outfield. He saw it, waved his arms, got a read on it, and the ball fell into his glove. Nunez, the student-athlete, is looking for more moments like that. #