Miami Marlins

Marlins All-Star Memories: Year after Jeff Conine doesn’t play, he’s the MVP

Jeff Conine hits a three-run homer in 2003.
Jeff Conine hits a three-run homer in 2003. Miami Herald file photo

The Marlins will be represented at the All-Star Game for the 25th time on July 11 when the Midsummer Classic is played at Marlins Park in Little Havana.

Gary Sheffield and Bryan Harvey were part of the Marlins’ first All-Star Game at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1993. In 2016, three Marlins (Marcell Ozuna, Jose Fernandez and A.J. Ramos) were part of the All-Star Game in San Diego.

The Miami Herald will look back at the top All-Stars who represented the Marlins — from Sheffield to Giancarlo Stanton — starting Sunday and running through the All-Star Game on July 11.

The 1994 All-Star Game was played at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and was held under the threatening clouds of a work stoppage which would eventually see the season come to an early end with no World Series.

For Jeff Conine, the All-Star Game was a “working vacation.”

Instead of heading to the Florida Keys for a few days, Conine — then in his second season and not yet known as ‘Mr. Marlin’ — brought his wife and dad Jerry to Pittsburgh for the occassion.

“I'm here in relative obscurity,” he said at the time.

Conine didn’t get much of an All-Star moment save for the pregame introductions. Of all the players in the game — the National League won 8-7 in 10 innings — Conine was the only position player who didn’t get in.

“Sure I was disappointed,” Conine said afterward, “but I still got to be there and share it all with my father. That was really special for me.

“It was nice just to be a part of it. It's definitely motivation to get back here.”

Indeed he would.

In 1995, the All-Star Game moved to Arlington, Texas, and once more, Conine was the Marlins’ lone representative.

Conine would play a much bigger role in his second All-Star Game.

After Philadelphia manager Jim Fregosi didn’t play Conine, Montreal manager Felipe Alou (the Expos led the NL at the time of the 1994 strike) promised Conine would play.

In the top of the eighth, Conine got his chance — and blasted a shot into the left field seats off Oakland's Steve Ontiveros.

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Florida’s Jeff Conine is greeted by New York’s Bobby Bonilla after his go-ahead homer in the eighth inning of the 1995 All-Star Game at The Ballpark in Arlington. LINDA KAYE AP

“Some of my buddies back home in Florida said, 'If you get in the game, you got to swing for the fences’.” Conine said.

The home run was the difference in the NL’s 3-2 win.

It also got Conine a nice piece of hardware as the game MVP.

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Jeff Conine of the Florida Marlins holds the All-Star MVP trophy following the 1995 All-Star Game at The Ballpark in Arlington, July 11. IRA STRICKSTEIN REUTERS

“This is like a dream,” Conine said afterward. “When you are 8, and playing cup ball in the back yard, this is what you dream of.

“It doesn't get any better than this. This is the baseball highlight of my life.”

Well, at least to that point.

Conine would later be part of a pair of World Series championships with the Marlins in 1997 and 2003.

At this year’s All-Star Game, Conine will serve as a ambassador along with Tony Perez.

CELEBRATING MARLINS ALL-STARS

Sunday — Gary Sheffield (1993, 1996)

Monday — Jeff Conine (1994, 1995)

Wednesday — Hanley Ramirez (2008, 2009, 2010)

Friday — Mike Lowell (2002, 2003, 2004)

Monday, June 26 — Luis Castillo (2002, 2003, 2005)

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The 2017 All-Star Game will be held at Marlins Park on July 11. George Richards @GeorgeRichards

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