When Marty Cordova attended the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in 2013 to watch his good friend Dana White be enshrined, White said to Cordova, “Dude, you need to be in this.”
On Friday, the former Bishop Gorman baseball standout who went on to play nine major league seasons joins White in the hall as part of the Class of 2016 at Orleans Arena. Cordova joins Frank Mir, Sig Rogich and the 1998 UNLV national champion men’s golf team as this year’s inductees.
“I’m not a big individual awards kind of guy,” Cordova, 46, said. “But growing up here and going in with all the greats from all the sports, it’s very humbling.”
Cordova’s baseball career nearly ended before it ever got going. He had starred at third base at Gorman and he was selected by the San Diego Padres in the eighth round of the 1987 MLB Draft. But he was leaning toward a career in sports medicine and was going to go to college.
He briefly attended UNLV in the fall of 1987. Fred Dallimore, who was UNLV’s coach then, worked with Cordova and helped him get his confidence back. He was struggling to make the throw across the diamond from third base to first and was ready to give up playing.
“I had a case of the Steve Sax’s,” he said, referring to the former major league infielder who had the yips in trying to make an accurate throw to first base. “I had made up my mind to quit, but Mike Mayne, the coach at Orange Coast College, convinced me to give it another shot.”
The Minnesota Twins selected Cordova in the 10th round of the 1989 draft. He finally made it to the majors in 1995, and hit .277 with 24 home runs and 85 RBIs. He was selected as the American League’s Rookie of the Year, and it appeared that Cordova, now an outfielder, was on his way.
With All-Star teammate Kirby Puckett serving as his mentor and friend, Cordova followed up his rookie season by hitting a career-best .309 with 111 RBIs, 97 runs and 46 doubles. But Cordova had a severe case of plantar fasciitis that was so bad he couldn’t run. He would recover, but he was never the same. He would later have Tommy John surgery on his elbow and had back issues late in his career.
“It was frustrating,” he said of the rash of injuries. “But I was never one to complain, ‘Why me?’ I always appreciated everything baseball gave me.”
Cordova’s nine-year run in the majors ended in 2003 with the Baltimore Orioles.
“Baseball was very good to me,” Cordova said. “The thing I did miss was being at the ballpark, being around the guys, that sense of family you got when you stepped on the field together. But I’m very proud of my career.”
He should be. In 952 games over nine seasons, Cordova had a .274 batting average with 122 home runs and 540 RBIs. He also invested his money wisely, first in real estate, then in Bent Pixels, his software platform company. It oversees digital rights for its clients, including Disney, Bell Media and Mattel, along with more than 20,000 individual YouTube accounts whose activation generates more than 500 million monthly views.
“Digital is the future for how we get our information,” Cordova said. “It’s an exciting and fun business to be part of, and things are going great.”
Cordova is fine not being around baseball on a regular basis. But Friday, he’ll enjoy revisiting his former life as a major leaguer at the hall of fame.
“It’s a great organization,” he said. “I’m very humbled to be honored and join so many great local sports figures.”
Contact Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj