Miami’s Rich Baseball History

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 28: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 28: (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

When most baseball fans think of the city of Miami, they visualize the Miami Marlins and a recent baseball franchise as the town’s baseball story. In reality, Miami possesses a long tradition of organized baseball that crosses generations, leagues and even color lines.

Miami has a long-standing tradition of baseball organizations who have added to the sports legacy of  this city.

As a relatively young city compared to other MLB towns, Miami nevertheless has a strong baseball heritage. The seeds of organized, professional baseball in Miami hark back to 1912 with the creation of the Miami Magicians as a minor league ballclub. While World War I interrrupted and essentially railroaded the Magiicians organization from fully growing, baseball quickly took hold in south Florida.

The years leading up to World War II saw multiple minor league teams arrive around Miami with names such as the Flamingos and the Wahoos.  The biggest impact on Miami’s baseball legacy came in the Depression with the creation of the Miami Giants, a “colored” team affiliated with the Negro Leagues.

Miami’s location in south Florida and its proximity to Latin America and the Caribbean made it a natural haven for baseball players of color to flourish in a sport that was still segregated.  The segregation of some of the best talent in baseball history did not end until Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, symbolically and practically bringing down the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

The Miami Giants morphed into one of the most interesting baseball teams of the twentieth century – the Ethiopian Clowns. Part baseball team, part Vaudeville act, part circus – the Clowns became one of the most recognizable of the Negro League teams as a “barnstorming” travel team. Eventually moving on to Indianapolis, the legacy of the Clowns stands in the fact that they still conducted barnstorming tours well into the 1980’s and were the last team affiliated with the Negro Leagues to still play long after baseball integration.

1956 was a key year in Miami baseball history as the first incarnation of the Miami Marlins arrived – as a AAA minor league ballclub. Moving into the Orange Bowl, the original Marlins had early success at the ticket gates but eventually fell into disfavor and relocated after only a few years into its existence. However, the name seemed to have stuck because another Marlins team would arrive within a few decades and elevate Miami to Major League status.

1993 is a milestone year in Miami baseball history with the creation and fielding of the Florida Marlins as an MLB team. Anyone familiar with the history of the Marlins knows the story line – owned by Wayne Huizenga (who owned Blockbuster – guess what happens next?) and then in 1997 the young Marlins win the World Series as a wild card team.  Despite moving from stadium to stadium until finally mvong into loanDepot Park and changing names from the Florida to Miami Marlins, the current MLB teams inherits a stong historical legacy of baseball in south Florida.

Fanatics /
Gary Sheffield
Florida Marlins Moises Alou (R) is congratulated by Gary Sheffield after his three-run home run in the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in game five of the World Series 23 October at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, OH. AFP PHOTO/JEFF HAYNES (Photo by JEFF HAYNES / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /

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