MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – When the final out is recorded at Sun Life Stadium Wednesday evening, it will be the end of the Florida Marlins and the birth of the Miami Marlins.
Wednesday’s final game for the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium will end a journey that started in 1993 with Charlie Hough throwing out the first pitch. It’s fitting that Hough will be throwing out the first pitch of the final game at Sun Life Stadium as well Wednesday.
The Marlins have compiled a 1434-1574 record at the stadium now known as Sun Life Stadium, or roughly a .476 winning percentage.
The team has never finished in first place in the National League East, despite having won two World Series championships, the first in 1997 and the second in 2003.
The Fish started their franchise at Sun Life with a 6-3 victory over the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers. The team’s first home-run was hit during that opening day victory by catcher Benito Santiago. Later that year, Gary Sheffield and Bryan Harvey became the Marlins’ first two All-Stars.
The team brought some of the best talent into baseball in several years, but would repeatedly deal the players before they became full-fledged superstars. Luckily for Marlins fans, almost all of those players will be in attendance Wednesday for several ceremonies honoring the team.
During the inaugural season in 1993, the team drew more than 3 million spectators to the stadium then known as Joe Robbie Stadium.
But as years passed, the Marlins experienced some of the worst crowds in Major League Baseball, especially in recent years. The team had to close off parts of the stadium because the crowds were so small.
In the past few years, it was so bad on some nights that it would sometimes look like just a few hundred fans were in the stands to watch the team play. Part of it was due to South Florida’s stifling heat and constant threat of rain, but a lot of it was because the Marlins put out a bad team year in and year out.
Since the 2003 World Series championship, the Marlins have finished above .500 just four times. In an area with fans as fickle as South Florida, if you’re not winning, they’re not coming.
But now, a brand-new, state-of-the-art stadium awaits the team that has long been considered one of the laughing stocks of baseball in recent years. Marred by bad ownership and bad player decisions, the Fish hope they’re turning a new leaf as they move into the new Marlins Stadium.
Marlins ownership and management have pledged to start actually investing money into the franchise, rather than keeping it for profit. The Fish were ordered to start investing in payroll by the league and the players association.
Still, while there are huge names on the free agent list this off-season, most notably perennial All-Star Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, it’s not likely owner Jeffrey Loria is about to open a checkbook and write a check for well over $200 million to land Pujols.
A move like that though would finally fire up the fan base in South Florida like the Big Three’s arrival for the Miami Heat, but it’s still not likely in the current Marlins make-up.
The Fish will have their new manager, Ozzie Guillen, and will finally reveal their new logo on November 11.
But for die-hard Marlins fans, there will be plenty of cherished memories that will be tough to duplicate in the new Marlins stadium.
The Fish close their run at Sun Life Stadium with a game against the Washington Nationals Wednesday. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m.