FISH TALE

Base­ball leg­end Jeff Co­nine proves he’s still Mr. Mar­lin, help­ing the Fish win and giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity he loves.

Ocean Drive - - Contents - BY JON WARECH

A mem­ber of both Mar­lins World Se­ries cham­pi­onship teams, Jeff Co­nine was dubbed Mr. Mar­lin early on in his ca­reer, and he still car­ries the nick­name to­day, both as a spe­cial as­sis­tant to team pres­i­dent David Sam­son and as a Mar­lins broad­caster for Fox. As the Miami Mar­lins en­ter deeper into the sea­son, the home­town sports hero talks to Ocean Drive about life in and out of base­ball.

Which mo­ments stand out to you as a player for the then-florida Mar­lins?

The ul­ti­mate goal is to win the World Se­ries, so when you think about those big mo­ments— Édgar Ren­tería’s hit up the mid­dle and Josh Beck­ett tag­ging out Jorge Posada—it doesn’t get any bet­ter than that.

You had mixed thoughts about the nick­name Mr. Mar­lin. How do you feel about it to­day?

Early on I didn’t know how I felt about it, but now look­ing back and peo­ple still call­ing me that, it’s an honor to be rec­og­nized as some­one who started with this fran­chise and still works for the same fran­chise. That’s how peo­ple rec­og­nize me. A lot of peo­ple just call me Mr. Mar­lin, which is kind of a cool thing.

Do you stay in touch with any of your team­mates?

Robb Nen is prob­a­bly my best friend in base­ball. We keep

in touch quite a bit and travel once in a while. I just talked to him the other day, and to other guys through Face­book and other means. I just saw Bobby Bonilla. He works for the Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. I seem to run into the guys at some point if they stay in the game.

When you came back to the team in 2003, what was that like for you?

Just be­ing able to go back home was huge. When I called my wife and said there was a po­ten­tial trade to send me back to Florida, she thought I was ly­ing. We made our home base here, we had our kids here, they went to school here—com­ing back home to play is what you long for.

Tell us about your cur­rent dual role with the Mar­lins.

I go to ev­ery home game, sit in on win­ter meet­ings for trades, visit the af­fil­i­ates, suit up for bat­ting prac­tice and get on the field with the guys, and I go to spring train­ing and in­struct. I’m in the dugout try­ing to help these guys be big lea­guers be­cause it’s a game of ex­pe­ri­ence. The broad­cast­ing job was pre­sented to me and it didn’t in­ter­fere with my du­ties with the Mar­lins, so Fox said, “Hey, do you want to try this out?” I re­ally en­joy it. One thing I know how to talk about is base­ball.

How do you spend your free time?

I’m still ac­tive. I’m play­ing ten­nis now. I en­joy golf. I’m kind of a wine col­lec­tor, so I’m dab­bling in that a bit. I still have a son at home and he’s heav­ily into track, and we are do­ing a lot of track and field stuff with him. My other son plays at Duke, so we travel up to see him.

How did you be­come in­volved with Joe Dimag­gio Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal?

Right when the team started, in ’93, my wife and I wanted to get in­volved with a char­ity and knew we wanted it to be with chil­dren. One of my team­mates at the time, Orestes Destrade, was go­ing to a lun­cheon at Joe Dimag­gio Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal and said, “Do you want to go over there?” So we went and Joe Dimag­gio and Tommy La­sorda were there, and it was just an amaz­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion. We de­cided shortly there­after that was what we wanted to di­rect fundrais­ing ef­forts to­ward. We started the golf tour­na­ment in 1995 that’s still run­ning, and we’ve raised about $5 mil­lion do­ing it.

“IT’S AN HONOR TO BE REC­OG­NIZED AS SOME­ONE WHO STARTED WITH THIS FRAN­CHISE AND STILL WORKS FOR IT.”

—JEFF CO­NINE

Dur­ing his MLB ca­reer, Mar­lins leg­end Jeff Co­nine was a two-time Na­tional League All-star and two-time World Se­ries cham­pion, in 1997 and 2003 (shown here tak­ing his turn at bat against the San Fran­cisco Giants in 1994).

Co­nine in the zone dur­ing spring train­ing in Mel­bourne, Florida in 1997.

With Miami Mar­lins owner Jef­frey Lo­ria (ƥƞɵƭ) and Base­ball Com­mis­sioner Robert Man­fred Jr. un­veil­ing the of­fi­cial 2017 All-star Game logo at Mar­lins Park.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.