Bournigal Keeps It in the Family
By Andrew Kivette
Rafael Bournigal spent seven years at the major league level, and on Thursday, June 27, he and his family stopped by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to share some memories about the game.
Museum Director of Research Tim Wiles showed the Bournigal family around the Hall of Fame’s Giamatti Research Center, sharing artifacts such as the scorecard from 1951 Shot Heard ‘Round the World game in which the New York Giants won the National League pennant.
Upon seeing Russ Hodges’ scorecard, Bournigal was immediately reminded of his father – George Bournigal – who broadcasted Major League Baseball games in Spanish for audiences in the Dominican Republic.
Growing up in the Dominican, Rafael Bournigal looked up to the stars from his country. “When I was growing up, I grew up liking Manny Mota. I was in his league – the Manny Mota league. So I was always looking up to him. And Alfredo Griffin, because my dad was always so friendly with him and he was so nice to us, (we knew him) when we were kids. And then Pedro Guerrero with the Dodgers. It was always related with the stars, the major league players that were around my dad.”
A lifetime .251 hitter, Bournigal – with the help of his two sons – recalled the best day of his major league career. “You went 3-for-4 against Randy Johnson,” said youngest son Grant, who played in a youth baseball tournament in Cooperstown this week. “That was the day Randy Johnson struck out 19 guys and Mark McGwire hit the longest ball in Kingdome history,” Bournigal recalled. “The next day – what I thought was my best day – I was 4-for-4 and hit a home run against [Bob Wolcott]. That whole week I was 17-for-25. They couldn’t get me out that week.”
Bournigal’s oldest son – Rafael Jr. – is following in his dad’s footsteps as he will start college in the fall at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., where he will be playing shortstop.
But Dad’s time in baseball has not subsided quite yet. After Bournigal’s playing days were over, he took over as the Marlins scouting director of Latin America. From 2003-2005, Bournigal served the Director of Scouting for the New York Mets. And now, Bournigal coaches his youngest son Grant’s baseball team.
”I’m able to relate with them and able to pass the things I learned in baseball to the next generation,” Bournigal said. “It keeps us together as a family – the long games, the ups and downs of baseball – there’s always a connection.”
Andrew Kivette is the 2013 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development