Attendance might be diminishing, but true fans remain.
“If you’re a fan, you should go out there and watch them and get them more inspired,” Dori Amador said. “No one wants to play to an empty stadium.”
And the players notice the diehards.
“The players love having fans in the stands. They really feel the love and the passion that these hardcore fans have for them,” said Sean Flynn, Marlins senior vice president of marketing and event booking.
Hardcore fans, particularly season-ticket holders, get rewarded, Flynn said. A rewards program lets fans accumulate points for participating in watch parties and social media interaction during games. Those points can be traded in for autographed merchandise, tickets to suites and to meet-and-greets with the players. A reward to the fans who stay for extra innings, for losses.
Fan at any age
Season-ticket holder Jenny Weinreb has been bringing her 88-year-old mother, Ann, to Marlins games since 1999. Jenny Weinreb began her relationship with baseball at the very first Marlins game at the then Joe Robbie Stadium on April 5, 1993. The Marlins beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3.
She left work early, paid $100 to be there and never stopped coming back.
In their years with the Marlins, the Weinrebs have forged bonds with players and employees.
“I want to support my team and I want to support the employees and staff that work here,” she said. “They make you feel like family.”
She’s worried that people will lose their jobs if she doesn’t go to games.
In a silent protest of the current state of affairs — at 27-50 Miami has the worst record in baseball — a black ribbon snakes around her arm, a sign of her dislike of the owner.
“My black ribbon was in memory of the team we could have had this season, in memory of the players who got traded,” she said.
Despite the sour feelings, the Marlins still make her happy.
And that’s how 5-year-old Kai Perez, feels, too. Kai comes to the games decked out in Marlins orange, accompanied by his mom and long-time fan, Omy Perez. She remembers the Marlins from their start in 1993, when she was in middle school.
“We are from the 305, so what can I say, you have to support your home team,” said Perez, 31.
Perez attended the Marlins showdown against the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this season with her husband, Tony, 27, daughter Anastasia, 9, and son, Kai.
Omy Perez still remembers the 1997 World Series Championship against the Cleveland Indians, when the Marlins took the trophy in the 11th inning of Game 7, 3-2.
“Going outside with my whole family yelling out for them that they won,” she said, “that was a good, good memory.”
Good Marlins memories continue on to her own family. Son Kai eagerly jumps up and down in his chair before the start of the game. He is there for one reason: to see Billy the Marlin.
He is Kai’s favorite quite simply “cause he’s a fish!”
Fifteen-year-old Michael Zaremba, a student at Miami Beach High and a fan since 2008, has his own reasons for going to games: to snag a baseball.
He is well-known around the ballpark with a collection of balls that tops 230.
On last count, Michael said, he had 231 in his Marlins ball box at home. At a game earlier this season, he had eight more in a drawstring bag.