Classic Marlins card: Hoffman rookie

December 9th, 2021

As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, we've asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards, and we've broken them down by team. We'll be revealing submissions regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.

Trevor Hoffman, 1993 Upper Deck

Remember this? Hoffman was, indeed, an original Marlin, making his MLB debut with Florida in 1993. Before he went on to rack up 601 career saves and become one of the greatest closers in baseball history, Hoffman was a reliever with the Marlins who had been converted from a shortstop in the Minors.

Though Hoffman began that season with Florida, he would be traded to San Diego in the deal that sent Gary Sheffield to the Marlins. It was in a Padres uniform that Hoffman became one of the most dominant closers in the game for 16 seasons. -- Manny Randhawa

Josh Beckett, 2003 Topps

This is the year that Beckett was absolutely sensational for the Marlins on their run to the 2003 World Series championship.

The 23-year-old had a 2.11 ERA in six games in his first career postseason, which he capped off by shutting out the Yankees in the clinching Game 6 of the Fall Classic. Beckett was named World Series MVP.

His Topps card from that year looks nice, too, as Beckett follows through on a pitch clad in his teal-and-black Marlins uniform.

Dontrelle Willis and Jason Stokes, 2003 Topps

The Marlins acquired Willis in a six-player trade that sent Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca to the Cubs in March ‘02. Stokes, meanwhile, was a second-round pick in the ‘00 MLB Draft. 

The two appeared together on a prospect card in Topps’ 03 set, both wearing classic Marlins teal. It was submitted via our survey by Cleveland’s Brett Shaver.

Stokes never reached the Majors, but Willis debuted that May and went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award in ‘03, going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 160 2/3 innings. The left-hander won a World Series ring with the Marlins the same year. -- Thomas Harrigan

Marlins: Gary Sheffield, 1997 Pacific

There’s always something special about our favorite team winning it all during our childhood. For Danny E. of Miami, that team was the 1997 Marlins.

Danny submitted this great card of one of the key sluggers on that club, Gary Sheffield. The card itself is awesome in that it goes with the “5th season” of the franchise on the front, with a shot of Sheffield in those sweet solid teal jerseys from the Florida days.

In his survey response, Danny elaborated on why he loved that year and that team so much, and it goes beyond baseball.

“It takes me back to my childhood and the ability for a city to unite via a championship ring and baseball,” he wrote. -- Manny Randhawa

Best Marlins facial hair card: Mike Lowell, 2003 Topps

Lowell's trademark goatee is front and center on this card from the 2003 season.

You might remember that as the year the Marlins won their second shock-the-world World Series title, upsetting the Yankees in six games in the Fall Classic.

Lowell was a leader of that team, making his second of three straight NL All-Star teams with the Marlins and hitting a career-high 32 home runs with 105 RBIs that season.

Lowell won the only Silver Slugger Award of his 13-year career and placed 11th in the MVP voting. -- Manny Randhawa

José Fernández, 2014 Topps Chrome

The late Fernández was known as much for his youthful exuberance as he was for his dominant stuff, and this card, which was submitted by William Blas-Lizarazo, manages to capture that perfectly.

"I collect Marlins [cards], and José Fernández is my favorite Marlin of all time, so anytime I see a unique card of his I have to pick it up," Blas-Lizarazo wrote. "This card just embodies who José was as a person -- always having fun. It wasn’t cheap, but I’m so glad I own it. I hadn’t seen another one prior nor have I seen one since buying it. It’s truly a gem in my eyes."

The card shows Fernández having a fun moment with the Phillie Phanatic, a broad smile on his face. This wasn't the only time the two interacted, of course, as they ended up starting a friendly rivalry. Their most memorable confrontation came in '16, when the Phanatic pretended to arrest Fernández after the pitcher jokingly swiped the keys to the mascot's ATV. -- Thomas Harrigan

John Lynch, 1992 Upper Deck

He’s a Hall of Famer -- in the NFL. And he’s also the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. So it’s pretty cool that he was also a pitcher in the Marlins organization, making possible a card like this.

Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl defensive back over a 15-year pro football career from 1993-2007 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos. But he was a pretty decent right-handed pitcher, too, and he was selected by the Marlins out of Stanford in the second round of the 1992 MLB Draft.

Lynch pitched for two Minor League seasons, posting a 2.35 ERA over nine starts between Low-A Erie and Class A Kane County from 1992-93. But he decided on a football career over baseball, and he did all right.

This card was submitted by a huge Lynch fan who didn’t know his hero played baseball until he first set eyes on it.

“My favorite football player of all time is John Lynch, and when I found out that he played baseball for the Marlins, I freaked,” wrote R.J. from Tampa, Fla. “My dad surprised me with the card for my birthday when I was 13, and it’s been my favorite card since.” -- Manny Randhawa

Dave Weathers, 1995 Fleer

The color scheme of Weathers' 1995 Fleer card is … loud. But that's what makes it unique. The neon greens and oranges in the background photo, coupled with the aquatic blue Florida Marlins uniform the right-hander is wearing in the foreground photo, makes for an eye-popping combo.

But let's get to the main event: Weathers' crazed grin as he delivers the pitch. It's in the foreground (as he reaches his arm back to deliver the pitch) and in the background photo (during his follow-through).

Flip the card over and see it again, lurking to the right of Weathers' career statistics, the very last two lines of which show his Marlins tenure, which began in the franchise's inaugural season in 1993. Weathers is an original Marlin, and he would produce a 17-22 record with a 5.16 ERA and 216 strikeouts for the Fish.

As the fan who submitted the card put it: "This is the best ball card ever! Front and back! This man will enter your dreams at night!"

José Fernández, 2014 Topps

José Fernández was a lot of people's favorite pitcher, including Joshua Perez of Miami Springs, Fla., who sent in this card commemorating the electric right-hander's 2013 NL Rookie of the Year campaign.

Fernández went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts for the Marlins in his sensational MLB debut season, making the NL All-Star team and finishing third in Cy Young Award voting.

Billy the Marlin, 2007 Topps Opening Day

One of the great quirks about Topps’ yearly Opening Day set is that fans can not only collect their favorite players, but also their favorite mascots. It’s a fun, affordable set that both serious collectors and casual fans alike enjoy year in and year out.

Billy the Marlin has been a staple at Marlins’ games since the team's inception in 1993, and he hasn’t changed a bit after a move to a new stadium and plenty of changes to the team’s design. -- Nick Aguilera

Derek Jeter, 2020 Topps Update

He's a Marlin -- albeit not a Marlins player. He's also a Hall of Famer who will soon be inducted at Cooperstown following a stellar career that resulted in 3,465 hits and five World Series rings over 20 great seasons with the Yankees from 1995-2014.

After making his name as the "Captain" of the Bronx Bombers, Jeter is now piloting the Marlins' ship as owner, presiding over a rebuild that he hopes will bear fruit in the years to come. -- Manny Randhawa

Jeff Conine, 1994 Topps

There are certain guys that, when you see them, you think of one team even though they played for several. Conine is one of those guys, and that team is the Marlins.

Conine was an original Marlin, debuting with the club in 1993 when he was still a rookie. He played in all 162 games that season, the first of eight he'd spend with the Marlins in two stints with the club during his career. He was an All-Star in both '94 and '95, and was on both Marlins World Series-winning clubs in 1997 and 2003.

This 1994 Topps card has the classic "All-Star Rookie" trophy at the bottom-right corner, commemorating a season in which Conine finished third in NL Rookie of the Year Award voting. -- Manny Randhawa

Mike Piazza, 1998 Fleer Ultra

You might remember the fact that Piazza was traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins before being dealt to the Mets, and that the Hall of Fame catcher actually suited up with Florida for five games. But did you know that, despite Piazza’s brief tenure with the team, there are baseball cards from that time period depicting the backstop in a Marlins uniform?

One of these was included in the ‘98 Fleer Ultra set as part of the outrageously ‘90s “PIZZAZZ” subset. The set also includes a late insert: card No. 501, which shows Piazza in a Mets uniform. -- Thomas Harrigan

Hanley Ramirez, 2006 Upper Deck

Ramirez’s ‘06 Upper Deck rookie card is a rarity. There aren’t many cards that show a player in uniform with one team but the logo of another.

Ramirez was traded from the Red Sox to the Marlins in a seven-player deal that sent Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota to Boston in November ‘05, and Upper Deck evidently did not have time to procure another photo. So the company ran with the image of Ramirez in a Red Sox uniform and slapped a Marlins logo on the card. The candid shot depicts the young shortstop chilling out on the tarp with his glove nearby.

Upper Deck would put out a card showing Ramirez in a Marlins uniform in its '06 Series 2 set. -- Thomas Harrigan

Dontrelle Willis, 2003 Topps

D-Train before he was D-Train. Here’s a great look back at Willis before he burst onto the Major League scene in 2003. Here he shares a Marlins prospects card from '03 with Jason Stokes, a first baseman/left fielder who didn’t make it to the Majors.

Willis was the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year thanks to a great campaign, in which he posted a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts for the Marlins, later helping the them win the World Series in six games over the Yankees.

Brett S. of Cleveland submitted this card in our survey, and his response was short, sweet and something many of us can identify with:

“Prospect cards were fun for me,” he wrote. -- Manny Randhawa