By most measures, the Marlins' 25th anniversary weekend was a home run, a virtual blast from the past.
Charlie Hough threw another strike with his ceremonial pitch to catcher Benito Santiago 25 years after he delivered one with the first pitch in Marlins history. The Marlins announced the return of popular broadcaster Tommy Hutton three years after he was let go under previous ownership. Fans showed up wearing old teal T-shirts and caps they dug out of the deepest recesses of their closets.
The Marlins wore the old teal pinstripe uniforms and caps throughout their series with the San Diego Padres. About two dozen former players and managers showed up to participate in the weekend-long ceremony.
"We have such a rich collection of Marlins alumni and baseball talent in the South Florida community, and this weekend was a great way to reconnect with these alumni members and our fans," said Chip Bowers, Marlins president of business operations.
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It was a feel-good 72 hours of Marlins nostalgia that brought back smiles and fond memories of the team's two World Series titles in 1997 and 2003, and its inaugural season in 1993.
“I know there’s a lot of history there with the uniforms and people seem excited about it,” said Derek Jeter, Marlins chief executive officer and co-owner, heading into the weekend. “So let’s see how many people show up this weekend."
Uh, not so many.
While most observers judged the event to be an overall success from a production standpoint, the crowds were — as they typically are for Marlins games — nothing special. The Marlins rank last in attendance among major-league teams, and the weekend crowds did little to move the needle forward.
Total attendance for the three games was 35,727, with Sunday's turnout of 12,984 being the largest crowd of the series. That compared to the 30,809 that showed up for the most recent home weekend series against the Nationals on May 25-27. In other words, the increase was marginal, an average uptick of just 1,639 per game.
Then again, it's hard to know what crowds would have been like had the Marlins not staged the event. The last-place Padres aren't exactly a marquee opponent.
"This weekend was a positive step toward re-energizing what we believe to be a passionate fan base," Bowers said. "We felt a great energy and passion inside Marlins Park, but we still have work to do as we continue delivering a fun first-class experience at Marlins Park and reconnecting with the South Florida community.".