Mike Redmond was back home in Spokane, Washington, last offseason, watching his youngest son Mookie catch in a Little League game when he noticed the mitt his son was using looked awfully familiar.
“I saw him out there and was like ‘Mookie, is that my glove? Where’d you find that?’’’ the skipper recalled Friday as he sat in the dugout at Marlins Park. “He was like, ‘Oh, Dad, I got it out of one of those bins in the garage.’’’
Mookie was using his dad’s glove from the 2003 World Series — the one Redmond used to catch Braden Looper in Game2 at Yankee Stadium.
Although most people probably would freak out, Redmond found the whole thing funny. To him, what he collected during his 13 years as player in the big leagues — everything from bats to balls to bobbleheads — serve simply as a doorway to a good memory, regardless of the condition.
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So what might the Marlins’ 43-year-old skipper take home with him from this season? If not for injuries to two stars, Redmond might have been this year’s National League Manager of the Year. Instead, he’ll probably just have to settle for a pretty good turnaround season and the respect of his peers.
After a deflating 62-100 season in 2013, the Marlins (74-81) head into the final week of the season Tuesday with an opportunity to finish at .500. Odds are it won’t happen, but it still turned out to be a season worth savoring.
Since the Marlins’ inaugural season in 1993, 26 teams across baseball have lost 100 games in a season. Only four won more games the following season than this Marlins team has: the 2009 Mariners (85-77), the 2003 Royals (83-79), the 1997 Tigers (79-83) and the 2005 Diamondbacks (77-85).
And when you consider the team was 20-16 and in first place when staff ace Jose Fernandez was lost for the season on May9, there’s no telling how things might have panned out had he been healthy.
“When you look at how this team plays for 27 outs, the number of one-run victories we’ve had, and the number of comeback victories that we’ve had, they’ve played with our manager’s character,’’ said Mike Hill, team president of baseball operations.
The Marlins, who went 24-35 in one-run games last year, finally found ways to win them in 2014. The team produced 11 walk-off victories, and its 35 victories in one-run games leads baseball this season.
Although it’s more likely the Pirates’ Clint Hurdle or Nationals’ Matt Williams will be crowned National League Manager of the Year, Redmond’s name has been in the discussion. What ultimately hurt him and the team was losing MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton for the season on Sept.11. The team has gone 3-7 since then.
When former Marlins skipper Joe Girardi won Manager of the Year in 2006 — with a team that included Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Dontrelle Willis, Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco — those Marlins finished 78-84 and in fourth place. Girardi remains the only manager with a losing record to receive the award since its inception in 1983.
Third baseman Casey McGehee said Redmond is worthy of the same type of recognition.
“I’ve enjoyed playing for him,” McGehee said. “He’s a good fit for what we’ve got going on. What you see is what you get from him. He expects us to play hard, do the little things right and he’ll jump on you if you’re not doing that. At the same time, he knows when it’s time to have fun and crack a joke and not take himself too seriously.’’
One of those instances players point to happened back in July, the day after an infuriating loss to Cincinnati when the Major League Baseball’s replay committee in New York ruled Jeff Mathis had blocked the plate on what should have been an inning-ending double play. A picture snapped of a furious Redmond — red-faced, shirt open and his stomach hanging out while arguing with umps — was posted on the TV inside the Marlins clubhouse the following day. It quickly changed the mood.
“It was a devastating game and to come back and see that the next day it was hysterical,’’ closer Steve Cishek said. “I’m not sure who did it, but Red took it like a champ, man. Some people might get upset about that, but he loved it and embraced it. That’s the type of person he is.’’
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (11-6, 2.82 ERA) vs. Philadelphia Phillies LHP Cole Hamels (9-7, 2.47), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Brad Hand (3-8, 4.59) vs. Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (9-13, 4.73), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.