By Gary Nelson

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — On April 15th, 2012, Omar Infante belted the first Marlins home run in the new Marlins Park, a drive over the left center field wall.

With that homer, “Homer,” the Marlins’ home run machine-made its debut. More than seven stories tall, Homer is a moving sculpture, red and green and blue and purple and a host of other colors, and features swirling marlins and flamingos and seagulls, a lighted sunburst, palm trees and, well, all kinds of things “South Florida” in over-the-top proportions.

The baseball world is buzzing now with rumors that future Hall of Famer and incoming Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter hates Homer the home run machine.  Jeter and his group, according to published reports, think Homer is a loud, tacky, gaudy, geyser-spewing distraction that needs to be thrown out of the game.

The huge piece of machine art, that obscures much of the downtown skyline from many seats in the stadium, was designed by artist Red Grooms, known for an irreverent, bombastic, sometimes sarcastic take on things.  In reports from the website, the Miami Herald and other outlets, the Jeter group believes Homer doesn’t look like Miami, maybe an artist’s joke on us.

At the Doral Ale House, fans had a love and hate relationship with Homer.  Some love it, some hate it.

“I think it’s great.  I think it’s part of the experience, the home run experience, so i don’t think it should be removed at all,” said Saray Nuno.

Richard Mellone had a different view.

“I don’t see where it adds any value to the game.  I really don’t,” Mellone said.  “It doesn’t have to be there.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, not a Marlins fan and angry that taxpayers’ dollars built their stadium, hasn’t weighed in on Homer but his spokesman, Mike Hernandez, said the mayor wouldn’t linger to look at the work.

“The mayor has been to museums all over the world, he’s a fan of art, but that structure, not so much,” Hernandez said.

But the mayor and county couldn’t allow removal of the work that the county paid $2.5 million for out of a fund for art in public places, according to Michael Spring, a spokesman for cultural affairs.

“It was designed specifically for this project… and is permanently installed. It is not moveable,” Spring told the Miami Herald.

Sculptures have been known, however, to be dumped before. A statue of the late comedienne and actress Lucille Ball – a terrible likeness, scary looking, actually – was removed from a park in her New York hometown after a public outcry.

And now the question being raised is will Homer, the clanging Marlins Park home run machine, become a work for whom the bell tolls.


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