MIAMI -- Rockies players noticed her first. A woman donning an OG Marlins jersey holding up a neon green sign behind the visiting clubhouse at loanDepot park prior to Colorado’s series opener in Miami on Tuesday.
“MAGADAN’S #1 FAN,” the sign read. Next to her, a small boy -- her son -- held a near-identical sign that said “My mom [heart's] Mags.”
Minna Larsson, a teacher at Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor K-8 in Bay Harbor Islands, Fla., has been a fan of Dave Magadan for 30 years. She recalled attending her first MLB game at Joe Robbie Stadium during the Marlins’ inaugural season in 1993, when she was a 16-year-old high schooler.
“I knew nothing about baseball until [then],” Larsson said. “My friend took me to a game, and I was hooked. … I went to, like, the third Marlins game with a friend. My parents were not into sports, they were from Scandinavia, they didn’t get it. And I fell in love.
“Tickets were $4, and so I would drive to the stadium every day and just go to the ticket box and get $4 tickets and go to every game. My friends would come too, and it was so exciting to really be a part of the beginning of something. I thought it was so cool that I was witnessing the beginning of a club.”
In 1993, Magadan was in his eighth Major League season, his first with the Marlins after signing as a free agent during the offseason. A corner infielder, Magadan started in the franchise's first game on April 5 and played in 66 games before he was traded to Seattle for Henry Cotto and Jeff Darwin. But Magadan returned to the club the following offseason when the Marlins acquired him from the Mariners in exchange for Darwin and cash.
Larsson remembers crying when Magadan was traded away. During his almost two years with the Marlins, she had the chance to meet the infielder at a few community events. That made Tuesday afternoon all the more special for Larsson, as she had unearthed pictures that she was able to show Magadan, proof that she’s been his fan for 30 years. It was also special because her son Mika, himself a Marlins fan and baseball enthusiast, got to meet his mom’s favorite player. Magadan even signed a ball for Mika.
“All the players saw the sign and were laughing,” Larsson said. “And [Magadan] told me, ‘Oh, it’s funny that you came with all the posters because I told all the guys, ‘When we get to Miami there’s going to be a lot of Magadan jerseys.’ And then you guys walked in with your signs, so that made me feel good.’”
Magadan played in the Majors for 16 years with seven clubs. In his 140 games with the Marlins, he slashed .281/.393/.358. He also drew 83 walks (out of his career 718 walks) and had 46 RBIs (out of 495 career RBIs). What made Magadan special, both in baseball and to Larsson, was his consistency.
“He wasn't the showiest,” Larsson said, “but he always had a lot of walks, a lot of runs batted in. … I liked him because he was consistent, and he was super patient at the plate. … My friends make fun of me because for 30 years, I still always say, ‘Oh I love Dave Magadan.’ Even though he’s been retired for forever. …He’s my first baseball love.”
“It makes me feel like I’m 16 again.”