Remembering the 1997 Miami Marlins
By Neil Raymond
1997 was 25 years ago, but what a season that was! At the time but it was only 4 years since the Miami Marlins came into existence. The Fish were then known as the Florida Marlins and have never even been to the playoffs before. The Miami Marlins never even had a winning season, with the 80-82 record the previous season being their best. In 1997 the then Florida Marlins finished the season with a 92-70 record and a World Championship. By the way, we’re celebrating it this weekend with commemorative rings and the 1997 team itself. Get your tickets just like I did. Anyway let’s remember that magical season.
The Miami Marlins (Florida Marlins) won it all in a historic 1997 season.
The Miami Marlins had phenomenal starting pitching that season with Kevin Brown delivering a 16-8 2.69 ERA performance in 237.1 IP; Alex Fernandez delivering a 17-12 3.59 ERA performance in 220.2 IP; and of course Livan Hernandez and his 9-3 3.18 ERA in 96. 1 IP and his playoff heroics. The hitting wasn’t far behind as LF Moises Alou hit .292/.373/.493 with 23 HR and 115 RBI, while RF Gary Sheffield added .250/.424.446 with 21 HR and 71 RBI among other big bats.
The Miami Marlins made it to the playoffs as a NL Wildcard team, becoming the fastest expansion team to make the playoffs ever at the time. In the NLDS, the Miami Marlins (let’s just call them that instead of the old Florida name), took on the San Francisco Giants (90-72) and easily swept them 3-0. This was the first time that The Fish have ever won a playoff series. In the NLCS, the Miami Marlins faced the Atlanta Braves (101-61). Atlanta was defending their NL Championship, that they won in the previous two seasons. Let’s just say that it’s needless to say who the favorites were.
The NLCS is memorable for a shocking upset, as the Miami Marlins knocked out the defending NL Champions 4-2. It was a stunner and had some controversial moments, but also had some memorable performances, including Kevin Brown winning both Game 1 and the series-deciding Game 6. The Miami Marlins had now won their first ever pennant and were moving on to the franchise’s first ever World Series!
The World Series saw the Miami Marlins take on the Cleveland Indians (now Cleveland Guardians) (86-75), in what turned out to be a classic that went the distance. By the way, you can watch Game 7 on YouTube (courtesy of MLB) here. The Series was very close, but it was the final game that became iconic. Cleveland had a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 9’th and their closer Jose Mesa was about to seemingly lock in a save. They even had the Commissioner’s trophy in Cleveland’s locker room. That proved to be premature…
Craig Counsell hit a sacrifice fly to score Alou and tie the game, and then SS Edgar Renteria drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 11’th inning. The Miami Marlins were World Champions for the first time!!! It was an amazing end to the season and set an aforementioned historic milestone, as no team has ever won a World Series this soon after joining the Majors. This weekend, let’s celebrate this historic team and look forward to the championships that can come in the future.