Welcome back to the Greatest Moments in Marlins History. Mr. Triple Crown, American League MVP, Homer Run King, World Series Champ, and there are so many more names you could call Miguel Cabrera. Miggy may be considered one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball history. As Marlins fans we know where Miggy got his start. This brings us to moment 13 (ahhh! Unlucky number!) June 20, 2003 wasn’t an unlucky day for Miggy though, as he hit a walk-off home run for his first career hit.
Miguel was signed as an amateur free agent by the Marlins in 1999 at the age of 16. In 2000 Miguel got his first taste of Major League playing with the Marlins Rookie League and Short-Season A Blue Sox. He didn’t put up typical Miggy numbers, but he was still young and learning. He would put up better number at Kane County with the Class A Cougars. He improved so much that in 2002 he made his way to the Jupiter Hammerheads, making a case for himself so that when the 2003 season started he would jump to Double A and play with Mudcats. That didn’t last though. After 69 games and a batting average of .365 (that sounds like the Miggy we know) he was called up to the play on the big club. On June 20, 2003 Miguel Cabrera made his Major League debut.
On June 20, 2003 at Joe Robbie Stadium (I know) the Marlins were facing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Miggy was the Marlins starting left fielder. His first few at bats weren’t that impressive. His first at bat he fought to a 3-2 count on 8 pitches, but on that 9th pitch he went down swinging. For his next at bat he would have another 3-2 count (this time only on 5 pitches) but flew out the 6th pitch to right field. 0-2 so far for Miggy’s debut, maybe his 3 at bat will be his breakthrough hit?
In the bottom of the 7th Miggy would come up for his 3 at bat. With the 2nd pitch of the at bat he grounded into a 3-4-3 double play. Things were not looking so good. However, in the bottom of the 9th with 2 out and runners at 1st and 2nd Miggy was up to bat for the fourth time. The game was tied at 1-1 and Miggy could be the hero, all he had to do was get a hit and bring the runner home. The count was 1-2 when Miggy made contact and… he grounded it back to the pitcher for a 1-3 out. Off to extra innings. The game went into the bottom of the 11th with no one scoring a run. Derrek Lee started the inning off with a pop fly to the right fielder, and then Alex Gonzalez double down the left field line. Here comes Miggy. After going 0-4 so far in the game, Miggy just need a hit to move the runner or possibly score him to win the game. What did he do to the first pitch? He sent that ball into deep center field and cleared the wall! Miggy’s first hit is a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th! Welcome to the big leagues, Miggy!
Wow! What else can be said about that home run? I do have a fishy feeling that another Miggy home run is still to come on this list. Join me tomorrow as we check out a very bizarre play in baseball, and how the Marlins successfully pulled it off. (And no, I did not get paid by the “Miggy”)