The Florida Marlins, and later the Miami Marlins, have seen 590 players take the field in a regular season game.
The 93rd of those to appear with the Florida Marlins was pitcher Kevin Brown, who is turning 55-years-old today. Born in McIntyre, GA, the six-foot-four, 200 lb. right-hander was initially a first-round draft choice in 1986, fourth overall off the board by the Texas Rangers. Just three months later, he made his major league debut, earning a 9-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics. He struck out four in five innings, surrendering two runs on six hits and zero walks.
Brown returned to the minors for the 1987 campaign, but worked his way quickly up the Rangers minor-league system to join the team for good in 1988. In eight seasons for Texas, he posted a 78-64 record over 186 starts, with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.369 WHIP. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles through free agency to start the lockout-shortened 1995 campaign.
Brown’s only season in Baltimore would see him go 10-9 with a 3.60 ERA in 26 starts, with a 1.178 WHIP. On December 23rd, 1995, the Florida Marlins signed Brown to a three-year, $12.9 million deal. Marlins GM at the time, Dave Dombrowski, was quoted in the Sun-Sentinel by David O’Brien (subscription required):
"On paper, we are a playoff contender. I think we have the capability to compete, and I don’t think I could have said that in the past. But it’s one thing to sign people. Now they have to play."
Judging by his WAR while playing for the Marlins, Brown enjoyed two of his best four major league seasons. In 1996, he played in his second career All Star game with his strong performance. He was 17-11 in 233 innings covering 32 starts for the season with major-league leading figures in a 1.89 ERA, a 215 ERA+, 0.944 WHIP, three shutouts, 0.3 HR/9, and 16 hit batsmen. This performance placed him second in the National League Cy Young Award voting at the end of the season.
In 1997, Brown continued to anchor the Florida Marlins rotation and posted a 16-8 record with a 2.69 ERA. He played in his third All Star Game (of an eventual six) while striking out over 200 batters for the first time in his career. He whiffed 205 in 237 1/3 innings, posting a 1.180 WHIP in 33 starts.
On June 10th, Brown came as close to perfection as you can without a perfect game. He struck out seven and held the San Francisco Giants hitless and walkless over nine innings for a 9-0 victory. The only blemish in Brown’s gem was a seventh inning HBP to Marvin Benard. Brown was quoted by David O’Brien in the next-day‘s Sun Sentinel:
"I was real happy the way things turned out. I’m happy with the way I threw the ball, especially after my last couple of outings."
It was the second no-hitter of the Marlins now-six.
Of course, the Marlins ended up cruising to the World Championship with Brown heading the rotation just four months later. Brown was anything but untouchable, going 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA in five starts, but Florida triumphed regardless.
After winning the title, the Marlins sent Brown to the San Diego Padres for Steve Hoff, Derrek Lee, and Rafael Medina. After going 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA for the Friars to close out his three-year deal, the Los Angeles Dodgers inked him to a seven-season, $105 million contract.
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Brown lasted five years in L.A., going 58-32 with a 2.83 ERA, then got traded to the New York Yankees for Brandon Weeden, Yhency Brazoban, Jeff Weaver, and cash. Brown went 14-13 with a 4.95 ERA in what would prove to be the last two seasons of his major league career for the Bombers.
The five seasons from 1996 through 2000 were the five best of Brown’s career, and Florida got two of them. He racked up a 36.7 WAR from his age-31 through his age-35 campaigns, and played in the All Star game in four of those years.