I went to Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina back in the early nineties. It was called AC or Anderson College at that time and it was a small Baptist College where all the athletes knew each other. On campus there was only one dining hall for all the students and only a few dorms to choose from. I attended Anderson with Rob Stanifer. It was a small school then so everybody knew everybody and we had lots of mutual friends.
Rob pitched at Anderson and went on to be drafted in the 12th round by the Marlins in 1994. As a right-handed reliever he played three seasons in the Majors, two being with the Marlins and one with the Boston Red Sox in 2000. He was a member of the 1997 Florida Marlins that were the first wild card team to win a World Series. That World Series went to a game seven with the Marlins beating the Cleveland Indians on an extra inning base hit by Edgar Renteria in the 11th inning.
Rob ended his career with 106 innings pitched and an ERA of 5.43 while recording 61 strikeouts. He is now the head baseball coach at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, FL where he’s been coaching for 10 years and helping younger the next generation of ballplayers. I had the opportunity to speak with him in regards to his World Series year with the Marlins.
Q: What was it like in your first Major League season to join and be a part of a team like the Florida Marlins who had a lot of veterans and ended up winning the World Series?
A: It was crazy as I went from being almost released from their minor league team in the previous season. I literally was almost cut and then I turned it around and made the 40 man roster in 1997 and won a World Series.
Q: Who were the players on that team that most influenced you or looked after you as a young bullpen pitcher?
A: Moises Alou was a quiet leader for that team. To me he was a very underrated player always willing to help or give advice. Robb Nenn was the guy in the bullpen that would let me pick his brain at any time. He was also a very quiet player in the clubhouse but a great player to watch.
Q: Was there a favorite player of yours that you got to play against?
A: Yes. I grew up a Dodger fan and a big fan of Orel Hershiser was one of my all time favorites. My nickname was “Bulldog” just like Orel. I did get to meet him and pitch against him in the World Series.
Q: Didn’t you give up a home run down the stretch to McGuire or Sosa during their home run record battle in 1998?
A: Laughs, yes I believe I gave up number 56 to McGuire. It was a first pitch that ended up being a 450ft home run.
Q: Did you keep any of your gear from that season?
A: Yes I kept my World Series jersey, World Series hat, and my glove. I also have the bat that I got my first Major League hit with mounted on the wall. I hit a single with it in my very first at bat in the Majors.
Q: Where do you keep your World Series ring?
A: It’s at home locked up still in the box it came in.
Q: What do you try to teach players on your high school team now?
A: I am fortunate that I have my 2 girls (daughters) but that I also have 25 boys each year too. I try to teach my players lessons I learned in high school, college as well as in Major League baseball. I am very proud of the fact that I’m able to get some of them to the next level with college scholarships. I also enjoy that some of them come back and thank us or tell us how much they appreciated us years after they have left.