In Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, Florida Marlins shortstop Edgar Renteria stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning with his team trailing the Cleveland Indians by one. The potential game-winning run was at third base, but the Fish were already in the hole with two outs. What happened next would go on to define the franchise. Renteria, who had been signed by the team in 1992 and developed in their farm system, was only in his second Major League season, but that didn't matter after his single to center scored Craig Counsell and delivered the championship to South Beach. Homegrown talent coming through in the clutch -- it's the Marlin Way.
Known now as the Miami Marlins, the organization first sprang to life in 1991 when Major League Baseball awarded South Florida an expansion franchise. Two years later and in front of a sellout crowd of 42,334, the ball club played its first game. While the early years would be light on wins, fans were encouraged by the All-Star efforts from players such as catcher Charles Johnson and outfielders Gary Sheffield and Jeff Conine. In 1997 and buoyed by the addition of free agents such asKevin Brown and Moises Alou, the team took the baseball world by surprise. After winning the National League Wild Card, the club rode their hot streak all the way to the Fall Classic.
The 2003 season would see the Fish capture yet another world championship. Again powered by in-house talent, Miami was becoming a hotbed for young players to thrive. Having done two tours of duty in South Beach at this point while also coming up big in the postseason, Conine became known as "Mr. Marlin," and in 2008, the Miami chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America began giving out the Jeff Conine Award to the Marlins ball player who "best embodies integrity and unselfish play."
After spending their first 18 years playing at Sun Life Stadium, the franchise moved to their new home of Marlins Park in 2012 -- and wow, what a stadium it is, indeed! With live fish tanks behind home plate, a nightclub next to the bullpen and a 60-foot-tall animated sculpture in the outfield, Marlins Park is hands-down one of the most unique atmospheres in all of baseball. Fans of all ages can enjoy the over 700 hundred figures found in the Bobblehead Museum, while hungrier supporters will love the Latin-flavored ballpark menu that includes items such as medianoche, plantain chips and empanadas.
Through it all, the Marlins organization has always marched to the beat of its own steel drummer. Every team in the league has to find a way to make it work, and for Miami, that means savvy player development, inspired effort in the field, and sometimes calling upon native son Pitbull to fire the crowd up. Whatever it takes, as the saying goes, and after one glance at the team's trophy case, it's hard to argue with the results produced thus far.