Wednesday I went to the Florida Marlins’ final game of the season. It was also the last game that they played in the cavernous football stadium owned by the Miami Dolphins. They’ve been tenants for 19 seasons, their entire existence. Next season they will play in their own new stadium in downtown Miami. The stadium will have a retractable roof and it was designed for baseball. The team will also have a new name: the Miami Marlins.
This was also the final game for the Marlins’ 80 year old manager Jack McKeon who is retiring after 62 years in professional baseball, as a player, coach, manager and executive. He was the Marlins’ manager in 2005 when they won their second World Series Championship in the team’s short history. He is the second oldest manager in the history of major league baseball, and the oldest to have managed a World Series winner.
The first pitch of the game. The ball is about 40% of the way to the the batter. It’s easier to see if you enlarge the photo. The condition of the field was sad. Remnants of the yard lines and end zone lettering from several football games played there in September by both the Dolphins and the University of Miami can be seen. In many areas of the field the grass was very thin or non-existent. Prior to the football season the field was always awesome to look at. It was so perfect one would think that each blade of grass had been individually measured and cut by scissors to uniform height. It looked like a lush green carpet.
Marlins’ fans have been criticized over the years for their poor attendance, which in the past few years averaged around 18,000 per game, whereas the overall average attendance in major league baseball is around 30,000 per game. I believe the criticism has been unfair. Attending games in that stadium was always an unpleasant experience. The average temperature during games is usually in the 90’s and during daylight hours the sun is brutal. That is when it wasn’t raining. Weather delays of several hours were frequent. Plus, very few seats were under cover. One could reasonably expect to be blistered by the sun, drenched by rain and roasted by the heat. Starting next season the games will be played in air conditioned comfort, and there will be no weather delays.