For years, Laurence Leavy has attended major sporting events — NBA Finals, World Series and All-Star games — and sat in the highest-profile of seats, all while wearing an orange Marlins jersey. The North Miami Beach attorney who refers to himself as “Marlins Man” is furious about the franchise’s latest dismantling — and made that abundantly clear to CEO Derek Jeter at Tuesday night’s town hall meeting at Marlins Park.
“I have promoted your product five years for free!” Leavy said during a five-minute soliloquy to Jeter on Tuesday.
Leavy was among more than 20 fans who stood behind a microphone and asked questions during Jeter’s first invitation-only town-hall meeting for season-ticket holders, attended by about 200.
Leavy, 61, has been a season-ticket holder since the franchise’s first season in 1993. He initially owned 20 high-priced tickets, then cut down to 10 the past two years.
But Leavy, speaking before Tuesday’s town hall meeting, said he hasn’t renewed his tickets — and isn’t sure if he will — because he doesn’t want to pay big-league prices “for a Triple A team.”
“I’m very angry,” Leavy said before the event. “This makes us miss [former owner] Jeffrey Loria. Who would have thought that?”
Ticket prices were set over the summer by the former ownership, and Leavy said the team’s new management said they will not change those prices for 2018.
“I blame MLB for this,” Leavy said. “They are so ecstatic for someone to spend $1.2 billion, because it makes all of their franchises more valuable.”
He said Jeter “should have put in” $100 million of his own money on payroll the “next two years to make this a playoff team. Just give it a shot.”
Leavy began his speech by asking Jeter: “Do you know me?” (Jeter said he has heard of him.)
Jeter repeatedly declined Leavy’s request to ride in the Marlins-mobile with him but said he would allow him to throw out the first pitch at a game — which Leavy has been requesting for years — on the condition that he sign a 10-year commitment for tickets.
Here’s a full account of Jeter’s town hall meeting. Some other highlights from Jeter’s session with reporters afterward:
▪ Asked if the Marlins got enough value from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade, Jeter said: “We gave a gift, right? I hope every gift I give returns $255 million. If that happens, I will be extremely happy. It gives us financial flexibility. This is an organization at this moment, that [contract] would handcuff us. This is a decision that benefits both the player and the organization. No stretch of the imagination it was a gift.”
▪ Asked why president/baseball operations Michael Hill kept his job, Jeter said: “Michael Hill is our president of baseball operations. Let’s get that clear. That’s not my job. That’s his job. We think Michael is very capable of doing his job. That’s why he’s here. We have added a lot of people to the organization that will help everyone. We added [executive] Gary Denbo; that is going to help Michael and help out his evaluation of players. We have a great team in place.”
▪ Jeter indicated he has no plans to talk to outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto, who are unhappy with the team’s direction.
Asked if part of his role to “sit down with” those two, Jeter said no.
▪ Jeter said he has “final approval” on personnel moves but “I trust the judgment of the people we have in place.”
▪ Jeter said he is close to naming a president of business operations to replace David Samson, who was not retained.
“We have a lot of qualified people who are interested in coming down here,” Jeter said. “We are getting there.”
▪ Why is this different from past Marlins dismantlings? “Only time will tell,” Jeter said. “I can tell you until I’m blue in the face we’re going to be different. Only time will tell. I know what our plan is and we’re going to stick with it.”
▪ When a fan implored Jeter to bring back dismissed announcers Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton — an idea that met with considerable applause from other season-ticket holders — Jeter said those decisions were made by Fox and he had nothing to do with Waltz’s November ouster. (Hutton was dropped by Fox 25 months ago.)
▪ As FanRag Sports reported, the Marlins signed journeyman right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner, who was 2-3 with a 5.08 earned run average in 18 games for Washington last season, including two starts. For his career, he’s 14-30 with a 5.09 ERA, including 8-9 in 2 1/2 years with the Marlins from 2012 through 2014.