I grew up and still reside in the Atlanta suburbs, as a lot of you may already be aware, so I do not get many opportunities to have chance meetings with Marlins personnel. At least not on a regular basis as someone who lives in Miami might bump into John Buck at the grocery store or Gaby Sanchez at the mall. The closest I ever got to actually being able to interact with Marlins players was during all those spring training games I went to during the 1990s.
What I have had the opportunity do do is meet some great people who are members of the extended Marlins family on two really cool occasions and in the spirit of the holiday season I will share with you the stories and hopefully not bore you with too many details.
The Flight Attendant:
My first completely random meeting with an extended family member of the Marlins family happened in the early summer of 2010. My wife and I were on a flight from Atlanta to Boston to celebrate her uncle’s 70th birthday. Of course I was wearing a Marlins hat and one of the flight attendants noticed and commented to me that she loved my hat. She asked me if I worked for the Marlins, which I thought was a little strange, but I responded and told her my story of why I’m a huge Marlins fan and how my grandparents lived in Melbourne, you guys know the story, and she went off to do her flight attendant duties and I thought nothing of it after that.
Once we reached cruising altitude she and another co-worker passed by with the drink cart and she made a point to mention to her co-worker that I was wearing a Marlins hat. In fact it was a very excited, “CHECK OUT HIS HAT!” like she was saying, “holy crap Marlins fans DO exist.” I’m thinking damn, there really are very few of us Marlins fans out there if by me simply wearing a Marlins hat is comparable with finding a rare white Elk.
About ten minutes or so later the flight attendant very excitedly plops a small picture book onto my tray table and starts flipping through the pictures. These were pictures taken down on the field at Sun Life/Dolphin Stadium during what appears to be the pre-game Marlins warmups with her children interacting with various Marlins players on the field. I thought, cool, she went to one of those fan events down in Miami that the Marlins hold on occasion. But then she flips to a certain picture with a very attractive looking young blonde haired woman and points to her and says, “that’s my sister, Mrs. Loria.” Now it took me a few seconds to process what she had just told me but when the light bulb in my brain finally lit up like a Christmas tree I turned to her, looked her straight in the eyes and said, “NO WAY!”
I had just met Jeffery Loria’s sister-in-law. For those that don’t know Jeffery Loria is the owner of the Marlins. I immediately realized the opportunity I had been given to speak for Marlins fans everywhere as a direct line of communication to the owner of the team so I asked her to please ask her brother-in-law not to trade Marlins outfielder Cody Ross. She said she would tell him for me, and it turns out Ross didn’t get traded, instead he was placed on waivers and picked up by the San Francisco Giants, who of course would go on to win the 2010 World Series with Ross as the MVP of the NLCS. Hey guys, I tried.
Here was my Halloween Costume that year (notice the hat):
Tune in next week for my story about the second member of the Marlins extended family that I met in person just this past weekend.
Happy Holidays to all my Marlins faithful.