Saturday Night Live’s Marcello Hernández’s Comedy Chops Are Matched Only By His Love of Baseball

Now, Hernández is collaborating with Major League Baseball on the league’s El Béisbol es Otra Cosa (Baseball is Something Else) campaign. He describes it as an homage to the way Latinos have positively affected the game, and a love song for the Latino baseball customs he’s long admired. “I think that it’s cool to just show the traditions that we have and the ways that we do baseball a little bit differently,” he says. “It’s almost like a religion for us.”

Like countless kids who trade baseball for the arts, Hernández was not exactly wowing people on the diamond. “I was really bad at baseball when I was little,” he admits. “I have severe ADD, and it was like, I’m in the outfield and the ball never gets here. So, I was doing a lot of cartwheels in the outfield. I also could never understand wearing pants in the sun. That was something that I couldn’t wrap my head around at that age.” And though he found plenty of success in his chosen field of comedy, he never lost his love of baseball. Growing up in Miami, Hernández rooted for the Marlins in the days of contortionist pitcher Dontrelle Willis and Dominican outfielder Juan Encarnacion, and frequently attended games with his uncle Pepito, who he says would always try to race him in the parking lot.

With Cuban and Dominican heritage, the 26-year old took a liking to pretty much any and every Dominican baseball player of the 2000s. “I was just kind of like a little encyclopedia for Dominican baseball players when I was little,” he says. A huge part of his baseball education came from video games, where he would play franchise mode and try to construct teams exclusively out of his guys. “I would only draft Dominican players,” he laughs, before busting into the time-tested baseball-fan activity of Remembering Some Guys. “Obviously, Big Papi. Albert Pujols, of course. Third base, Adrián Beltré or Aramis Ramirez. Left field, Manny Ramirez. Center field, Willy Taveras. Right field, Vlad Guerrero. I know these Dominican players like the back of my hand. Alfonso Soriano, Luis Castillo, Miguel Tejada…I would throw Juan Pierre in there because he played for the Marlins, and then guys that I thought were Dominican that weren’t. I thought Jimmy Rollins was Dominican forever.”

When he eventually accepted that baseball was not his path to stardom, Hernández turned to soccer, where he was much more successful, and later to comedy. That’s how he got on SNL’s radar, and in his very first episode, a cosmic set of sports circumstances allowed him to flex his baseball acumen.

Getting to work with MLB was a true dream for Hernández, who also participated in the Celebrity Softball Game and Home Run Derby last year in Seattle. He’s the kind of guy with many and varied opinions about the sport: on baseball history (“If there were some Dominicans back in the Babe Ruth days, it would’ve been a different league”), steroids (“I think steroids are good for you, bro. I mean, it makes you stronger. Isn’t that good? You can lift more stuff”), and even the Dominican team Leones del Escogido, where the seeds of his performative streak were planted.

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