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Martin Fennelly, Times Sports Columnist

Martin Fennelly

Martin Fennelly is a sports columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. He was born in New York City, raised on Long Island and was sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, minding his own business, when Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in one night to beat the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. Prior to joining the Times, he worked as a columnist for the Tampa Tribune, St. Louis Sun and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Martin graduated from the University of Albany, where he studied history, and attended the University of Missouri Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in Lutz with his wife, Siobhan, their children, Conor and Norah, and, at present, five cats.

Phone: (727) 893-8495

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  1. Tampa Olympic swimmer's inspiration ripples through 'Black Kids Swim'

    Swimming

    ST. PETERSBURG — Maritza Correia McClendon, a former Tampa Bay Tech and University of Georgia swimmer and 2004 Olympic medalist, hears the stories. They break her heart.

    "We were doing a swim clinic in Seattle," Correia McClendon said. "Three weeks before it, one of my sorority sisters, her employer's daughter, drowned in a river. She was 7 years old. She was in the water and she didn't really know how to swim. The current just took her away. A beautiful little girl."...

    Simone Manuel, left, Maritza Correia McClendon, center, and Lia Neal in Omaha at the U.S. Olympic Trials after Manuel and Neal made the Olympic team. (Courtesy of Maritza Correia McClendon)
  2. Fennelly: Why trading Jonathan Drouin could haunt the Lightning

    Lightning Strikes

    This could haunt the Lightning.

    Bolts GM Steve Yzerman and coach Jon Cooper don't scare easily. They proved as much Thursday and took a real chance by dealing Jonathan Drouin to Montreal. Au revoir.

    In return, the Lightning gets Montreal's top defensive prospect, Mikhail Sergachev, who was picked ninth overall in the 2016 draft. Sergachev, 18, has the potential to be an elite puck-moving NHL defenseman. That's hard to pass up. A proactive move by Yzerman in the name of the future....

    The Lightning's Jonathan Drouin, right, scores a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers' Steve Mason Saturday in Philadelphia. [AP photo]
  3. Fennelly: A sleeper pick for the Bucs' 'Hard Knocks' star

    Bucs

    Lights, camera, Koetter!

    Late next month, Hard Knocks crews will swarm One Buc Place, planting cameras and microphones here, there, everywhere.

    The headliners? The smart money might be on Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Gerald McCoy. Or DeSean Jackson. Or Roberto Aguayo. Or rookie defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu and his irresistible story. But I've got a sleeper pick.

    The head coach....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter is seen during an "open OTA practice" at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, June 1, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  4. Fennelly: It was all about family for Hillsborough coaching legend Billy Turner

    Footballpreps

    The last time I saw Billy Turner was a few weeks ago. I'd been thinking about him. People had asked about his condition. One high school football coach asked this way:

    "What's the score with Billy?"

    That day with Billy was one of his last best days. He was in pain, but he was as sharp as ever. He'd fought an exhausting battle with cancer. At one point, doctors figured Billy was down to a few months, or even weeks. That was a few years ago. Billy fought and fought....

    (10/05/2007 -- Tampa) PHOTO 12: Chamberlain head coach Billy Turner paces the sidelines during a rainy game against Sickles on October 5, 2007. (Daniel Wallace   |   Times)  STORY SUMMARY: Friday night football: Second Half Action: Chamberlain High School plays at Sickles on Friday, October 5, 2007. At the half, Chamberlain won 35-0.
  5. Fennelly: Humble Alex Faedo looks to be next Alonso product to go high in draft

    Ml

    GAINESVILLE — His life will change today. You wouldn't know it by him. Alex Faedo, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-handed pitcher, former Alonso High star and University of Florida ace, likely will be taken in the first round of baseball's draft. It could mean a signing bonus in the millions.

    Now, about the Bucs draft …

    "I'm a diehard," Faedo said. "(O.J.) Howard's a freak athlete. I hear the safety from A&M is pretty good, too. I'm a big fan of Jameis, even though he's an FSU guy. I'm happy they're on Hard Knocks. I think they've got an edge to them."...

    Alex Faedo, left, befriended the late Jose Fernandez at Alonso and calls him a hero.
  6. Rays-A's doubleheader: It was a banner day — mostly

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — What the world needs are more Banner Days.

    Put the Rays and their fans on the board. They gave it a delightful, heartfelt shot between games of Saturday's doubleheader.

    "And there's another game to go," Stephanie Williamson of Wesley Chapel said. There was a giddy quality to it as fans lined up under the Tropicana Field stands in the leftfield corner, beginning around the seventh inning of the first game. Williamson's 10-year-old twin daughters, Sanai and Symone, held their "Long Ball Longo" poster....

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with a walkoff single to end the first game of the double header between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, June 10, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5.
  7. Rays-A's doubleheader: A real throwback for Rays radio announcer

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The double-dip Saturday at the Trop brought back memories for Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed, who with partner Dave Wills did double duty. Freed, who grew up in the Baltimore area, was reminded of his "start" in play-by-play announcing.

    SEE WHAT IT WAS LIKE: Dive into a vivid photo gallery from an unusual day at the ballpark with the Rays and A's...

    Tampa Bay Rays Radio broadcaster Andy Freed, left, calls the action with Dave Wills during the second game of the double header between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, June 10, 2017.
  8. Rays-A's doubleheader: Greetings from the 'Spaceman'

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG --- Given that Saturday was slightly outside the box — the first scheduled doubleheader in the major leagues since 2011 — who better to throw out the ceremonial first pitch than one of the great oddballs in baseball history: Bill "Spaceman" Lee, a left-hander who won 114 games over 14 seasons with the Red Sox and Expos and was unfailingly outspoken, flaky and fun.

    Lee, 70, who splits time between his Vermont farm, California and a home on Florida's Pine Island, has not changed. He ran for governor of Vermont in 2016, gaining 2.7 percent of the vote while running on the Liberty Union ticket....

    Bill Lee, the Spaceman, reacts after throwing the ceremonial first pitch of the first game of the double header between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, June 10, 2017.
  9. Rays-A's doubleheader: A Florida umpire's big break

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Baseball teams typically go through 12 dozen baseballs during a game. So double it for a twin bill — 24 dozen. Before the games, the baseballs sit in the umpires dressing room. So do the umpires. Doubleheaders are tough on them, too.

    In 2000, Major League Baseball mandated a fifth umpire for doubleheaders so the men working home plate wouldn't have to umpire both contests. "It takes all your concentration," crew chief Jeff Nelson said. "When you're done, you're mentally drained."...

    Fans watch game action during the first game of a doubleheader between the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Saturday, June 10, 2017.
  10. To commemorate the Rays' doubleheader, a twinbill celebration

    The Heater

    In celebration of the Tampa Bay Ray's only single-admission doubleheader this season Saturday against the Oakland Athletics (first pitch, 2:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field), we take a look at some of the most memorable doubleheader moments and facts in baseball history:

    ○ ○ ○

    LEGENDS OF THE DOUBLE DIP: Memorable doubleheaders

    May 30, 1922: The Curse of Max Flack....

    Between games of a twi-nighter between the Tigers and White Sox at Chicago's Comiskey Park, a crate of disco records was detonated in center field. Fans stormed the field. Fires began. Riot police arrived. The second game was called off.  [AP photo]
  11. A love letter to doubleheaders

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I'm bouncing in my seat inside a shock-absorber-less school bus that's hitting every pothole on the Grand Central Parkway as if it is a long lost friend. I'm 9. My cousin Richard is sitting next to me. We're wearing our Police Boys Club baseball uniforms: caps, T-shirts, wool pants. Team trip. It's July, not wool's best month. It's 413 degrees out. But we're going to a doubleheader....

    Rays pitcher James Shields, left, reacts as the New York Yankees' Eduardo Nunez rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the first game of a doubleheader in 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Rays' Sean Rodriguez, right,homers during the second game. [AP photos]
  12. Jimmy Fallon, should you really be picking on J.R. Sweezy?

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Meet J.R. Sweezy.

    Again.

    Last year's new free agent signing on the Bucs offensive line is this year's new free agent signing on the Bucs offensive line. Funny how that worked out.

    There was Sweezy's introductory news conference last March after he signed a five-year, $32.5-million contract....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard J.R. Sweezy (73) participates in a practice at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, June 8, 2017.
  13. Time for Jim McElwain, Quarterback Whisperer, to develop a QB

    College

    ST. PETERSBURG

    And now the Nation turns its lonely eye toward graduate transfer Malik Zaire.

    In Zaire, does Florida have coach Jim McElwain's answer at quarterback? Is the former Notre Dame run-pass threat the bridge to the future, the man to let Gainesville grow a quarterback in redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks and prevent the return of Luke Del Rio to No. 1?

    It remains the No. 1 question: What about a quarterback? I was at a Florida baseball game the other night and that was the end of most chats … "If we have the quarterback."...

    Malik Zaire #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs out of the pocket during the first half against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 4, 2016 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
  14. Wharton High shortstop Drew Ehrhard wins 47th Saladino Award

    Preps

    BRANDON — It was a hot topic in the Ehrhard home during the high school baseball season.

    Who would win the Saladino Award?

    "I honestly really didn't think I would win," Drew Ehrhard said.

    He was wrong. On Sunday night, the Wharton shortstop and leadoff man won the 47th Saladino Award, presented annually to the outstanding high school senior baseball player in Hillsborough County. Ehrhard is Wharton's first Saladino winner....

    Wharton High shortstop Drew Ehrhard, receiving his trophy from Tony Saladino, batted .422 with four homers,
24 RBIs and a .505 on-base percentage for the Wildcats.
  15. Late errors doom USF in 5-1 loss to Gators

    Blog

    Extra innings. And it could have been extra special.

    USF was one run away from arguably its biggest victory ever.

    But two throwing errors on one attempted pickoff play in the 12th inning scored the go-ahead run as No. 3 national seed Florida (44-16) beat USF 5-1 at McKethan Stadium on Saturday night.

    “Our defense, for most of the night save for one play, was remarkable," said Bulls coach Mark Kingston, whose offense wasn't as dazzling (12 stranded base runners)....

    USF starter Shane McClanahan delivers a pitch in the first inning of Saturday's game against Florida in the NCAA Regional in Gainesville. UF won, 5-1, in 12 innings