He wears No. 50 in honor of his native Hawaii, and he enjoys hanging out at the beach and scuba diving. But there is one Hawaiian custom in which Orioles left-hander Sid Fernandez does not participate.
He doesn't surf. Not anymore anyway.
That hobby came crashing to an end when Fernandez survived a brush with disaster while body surfing at Sandy Beach in Hawaii seven years ago.
"I tried to kick out of a wave, and it slammed me right into the ground," he said. "I crashed headfirst into the sand, and I thought for sure I had broken my neck. I thought that was it. It really scared me, and I haven't surfed since. I used to do it all the time, but I'm through with that now."
Fernandez is the Orioles' second Hawaiian player. Lenn Sakata was the first. Fernandez was a fan of Sakata's, but his favorite team was the San Francisco Giants of an earlier era.
"They had the Dodger and Giant games on the radio every day in Hawaii, so most of the people are either Dodger fans or Giant fans," Fernandez said. "I listened to the Giants every day on the radio. Willie McCovey, Jim Ray Hart."
Fernandez, who lives in Hawaii Kai in the off-season, suffered culture shock coming to the mainland as a Dodgers minor-leaguer, a move that prepared him for 10 seasons in New York with the Mets.
"I liked New York," Fernandez said. "You hear some people say the people are nasty, but I didn't find it to be that way. I found everyone to be pretty friendly. It took a little getting used to at first, but I liked it."
Who needs the library?
Mike Mussina, an economics major at Stanford, drew on personal experience and little else to write his final paper in college.
Mussina wrote about the short-term and long-term pros and cons of signing a pro baseball contract out of high school as opposed to out of college, and reached the conclusion it was better to go to college, then sign. He said it took him one day to write and he received a B-plus.
"Every scout tells you you will be up in two years," Mussina said. "Every scout points to Dwight Gooden as an example. I think I put in there [the paper] that I didn't want to be pumping gas at 25, maybe married with a child. Who knows? Your career can be over in a day."
Mussina, 25, was projected as an early first-round pick in 1987 out of Montoursville (Pa.) High School, but when it became clear he was headed for Stanford, he slipped to Round 11, where the Orioles picked him. Three years later, the Orioles signed him after making him the 20th pick overall.
Mussina is a player representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association, headed by executive director Donald Fehr, who says that very little of what is taught in college economics classes is germane to baseball economics. Mussina agrees.
"From what I know about baseball, it doesn't apply," Mussina said.
A call from the dugout
Hospitalized Thom Loverro, Orioles beat writer for the Washington Times, received a surprise phone call between the top and bottom of the first inning of the Orioles' game Sunday night in Arlington, Texas.
Resting in bed at Arlington Memorial Hospital, where he checked in Saturday night and was scheduled to leave today, Loverro heard from Orioles manager Johnny Oates.
"He called to let me know he was thinking of me and wanted to make sure I was OK," Loverro said.
Loverro's ailment was diagnosed as pericarditis, the inflammation of the membrane around the heart, a condition caused by a virus.