Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MLB Summer Tour: Sun Life Stadium

Name: Derek Reese
Team: FLORIDA Marlins
Stadium: Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphins/Dolphin/LandShark/Dolphin/Sun Life Stadium

How many times a year do you make it to a game?:
Usually 5-10 times per year, sometimes more, since the inaugural season in 1993.

What is your favorite part of the ballpark?:
Definitely the quirks in the outfield, namely the (formally) Teal Tower in left
field. The giant teal out of town scoreboard with the analog clock and lineups
was the only thing that gave Joe Robbie that ballpark feel. It made you briefly
forget you were really in a cavernous football stadium. For every home run it
took away from the good guys in Teal and Black, it took one away from the
opponents. But the small gap where the Tower ended down the left field line
always let a few sneak over the wall(just ask Alex Gonzalez). The loud metal
bang when the ball smacked into it surely meant extra bases. Unfortunately this
unique feature was covered up with giant ads in 2010(thanks to the stadium nor
the team wanting to pay for repairs)

Another fun spot is the “Bermuda Triangle”, the notch in the outfield wall in
deep left center, jutting out to 434 feet from home plate. Triple-city for the
speedsters over the years like Chuck Carr, Luis Castillo or Juan Pierre. Every
time a ball was caught in the triangle, the inevitable “That ball is out in any
other ballpark” comments would spring up, from the stands to the press box to
the guy on his couch.

Sadly, these unique outfield features, one of the few true South Florida MLB
traditions, are not being transferred to the new ballpark at the site of the
Orange Bowl.

What makes the games special?:
Marlins games at Joe Robbie Stadium were always special to me growing up. There
has always been a unique camaraderie between the Marlins fans, we always have to
fend off the transplants from out of town, regardless of who we are playing. Be
it New York, Philly, Atlanta, LA, Chicago, there are always some loud mouth out
of towners in attendance that bring out the best in Fish fans. Win or lose, rain
or shine(usually rain), I always have a good time at a Marlins game at Joe
Robbie. I've been soaked while sitting in the rain watching the tarp crew go to
work, come home with sun burn on hot Sunday afternoons, but you never regret
heading out to the stadium. Even if only 6,000 people show up, you can enjoy the
ample legroom and it feels like they are playing the game just for you.

When driving down the Florida Turnpike, as you round the curve at Hollywood
Boulevard going southbound, the lights and scoreboard come into view on the
horizon. I still get excited even if I'm not going to a game. And that's what
baseball and sports is all about. A stadium, even the 3rd oldest stadium the
National League, and the very worst in baseball, is a special place and it can
bring out the kid in you.

Favorite memory at the stadium?:
I've seen too many games to single out one memory. It's really been just an
entire experience, from my first ever baseball game in 1993 at the inaugural
season finale, to seeing Mark McGwire hit home runs #58 and #59 in 1998, to the
excitement as the club marched towards the playoffs in 1997 and 2003. I can
remember several occasions huddling under the overhangs on the concourse, hiding
from the rain. Trying unsuccessfully to snag a BP home run from everywhere
possible in the outfield over the years(best I ever got was a ground rule
double). I got to sit in a skybox and meet Tony Perez one year, I've seen a
handful of great walk off wins, stayed for doubleheaders late into the night,
and watched many careers get their start on the diamond at Joe Robbie Stadium.
The 19 years of the Florida Marlins at Joe Robbie Stadium are something I'll
never forget.

Picture of you:

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