Random Plate Appearance: When the Florida Marlins Were New
In today’s Plate Appearance of the Day series, we go all the way back to season number one.
It’s important to remember your history. This series is not so much to dive into the nuts and bolts of individual at bats as much as it is to paint a moment in the Florida/Miami Marlins history. Do you remember the first season? Hope was in the air, but how could they know they would witness two World Series titles in their first 11 seasons, followed by…something else?
Today’s Season: 1993
Seasonal Game: 71, June 23rd, 1993, St. Louis Cardinals visit Florida Marlins
Plate Appearance: 13-of-77
Seasonal Outlook: The inaugural season of the Florida Marlins (32-38) was going much better than expected. Sitting in sixth place in the seven-team National League East, at least the Fish were 10 1/2 games better than the New York Mets. Encouragingly, the Marlins Pythagorean win-loss had them ranked third in the division.
The St. Louis Cardinals (39-30), in the same division as the Marlins, were 9 1/2 games behind the division leading Philadelphia Phillies. Trying to finish with a winning record for the third year in a row, the Cards hadn’t been to the postseason since losing the World Series in 1987, to the Minnesota Twins in seven games.
René Arocha (5-2, 3.05) took the hill for St. Louis, while the Florida Marlins were counting on Ryan Bowen (4-7, 3.99) to bounce back from a tough loss to the Phillies five days prior.
The first pitch of the game, at 7:35 P.M. local, as 37,936 were on hand at Joe Robbie Stadium. It was a strike by Bowen, fouled off to the right side by Cardinals starting left fielder Bernard Gilkey. In the bottom of the inning, original Marlins first baseman Orestes Destrade hit a two-out RBI-single for an early lead.
Bowen opened the next inning by allowing three straight hits, then walking Cards right fielder Rod Brewer to score a run and tie it up.
Our Plate Appearance
With the bases loaded, nobody out, and one run in, catcher Erik Pappas came to the plate for the first time, batting eighth in the order. Having recently exceeded his rookie status, Pappas had earlier in the season completed a 16-game hit streak, going 21-for-55. Stepping in to face Bowen, he was hitting .330/.417/.409 over 103 plate appearances.
(Details on most pitches are mostly made up, because I can’t find reliable video for games before 2009. Forgive my creative license.)
Pitch one: Bowen’s 30th pitch of the game was a strike low in the zone that froze Pappas looking.
Pitch two: Bowen watched a pitch go outside, slightly surprised to see it called strike two.
Pitch three: An offering over the plate, but high enough to be called a ball.
Pitch four: Pappas dug in to let one rip. Having seen all that Bowen had to offer, he was confident in his ability to groove one. A curveball mostly over the plate, Pappas gripped and ripped, but missed for strike three.
Bowen held the line through this plate appearance, but things continued to be difficult through the rest of the inning.
The Rest of the Game
Pitcher Arocha came up next, and knocked two in with a single before Bowen struck out Gilkey and induced future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith to ground out, 4-3.
In the fourth inning, right fielder Greg Briley singled in Destrade to cut the lead to 3-2. Cardinals first baseman Gregg Jeffries got that one back in the top of the fifth, scoring Gilkey on a single.
Florida Marlins left fielder Jeff Conine collected a sixth-inning sacrifice fly, scoring third baseman Dave Magadan. The Marlins came no closer, though, and ended on the short side of a 4-3 final score.
The loss was the eighth in 10 games for the Marlins, who later in the day announced a trade with the San Diego Padres for third baseman Gary Sheffield. Incumbent 3B Magadan was a little upset:
"I’ve been through this before, but usually I was the one rumored to be traded, not headed for the pine. I’m not going to take this very well. – Magadan, as quoted by Gordon Edes, Sun-Sentinel"
The Marlins gave up minor leaguers Jose Martinez, Andres Beruman, and another future Hall-of-Fame reliever, Trevor Hoffman in the deal.
Bowen took the loss, his eighth of the season after allowing all four St. Louis runs in five innings of work, on eight hits and two walks. He struck out four. Another future Hall-of-Fame player, closer Lee Smith, got the final four outs for his 25th save of the season.
"This was difficult today. You can tell something’s going on. Walt’s name in all the rumors and all that. It was hard on him. – Bret Barberie, in the same article"
Florida Marlins: The Rest of the Season
A 32-59 record awaited the Florida Marlins after the loss through the rest of the season, to finish at 64-98. Not great, but five games ahead of the Mets at least. St. Louis went 47-45 the rest of the way, finishing third in the division, at 87-75 and 10 games back of Philadelphia.
More from Marlins History
- Miami Marlins One-Year Wonder 1B
- Miami Marlins players & the 2023 Hall of Fame
- Former Miami Marlins star is retiring
- Gary Sheffield or Mark Buehrle, will either Marlin make the Hall of Fame?
- Why don’t we see more dynasties? Part 3
Bowen played for the Marlins for another two seasons afterward. His career statline with the team was 11-17, with a 4.49 ERA and a 4.74 FIP. Seven of his career wins were after our plate appearance of the day.
After the end of the season, Pappas appeared in 15 more games for the Cardinals the following season, then never again at the major league level. In 104 games in total, he had hit .242/.342/.298 with one homer and 35 RBI.
Thanks for spending five minutes taking this trip down memory lane. Keep it locked in here for more Miami Marlins news, rumors, predictions, musings, and memories.