This pitcher kicked off first Marlins season

June 18th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola’s Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Flashback Fridays hold a more special meaning during the 2023 season for the Marlins, who are celebrating the franchise's 30th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of their second World Series championship.

In this latest Q&A installment, we catch up with right-hander , who threw the first pitch in Marlins history and picked up the win on April 5, 1993. A local product from Hialeah High School, the 45-year-old knuckleballer was in his 24th of 25 MLB seasons. Hough made 55 starts for the Marlins before retiring. How much pressure did you feel before that first pitch?

Hough: That was just plain old fun. I wasn't thinking of anything other than, 'Let's win the ballgame, because it's my old team.' The Dodgers and [Tommy] Lasorda. That was my only thought, and how much fun was this going to be. It would have been fun to lose. It ended up being really fun to win. Where does being the first pitcher in franchise history rank for you?

Hough: It wasn't the biggest game to pitch in. There was the World Series. Dodgers-Yankees World Series. But, if I think about my career, the first thing that I would think of, is getting the chance to pitch that game. Not how it turned out, so much. But getting the opportunity. The odds are astronomical that somebody would get to pitch that kind of game. An expansion team, in your hometown at that age -- 45. What did it mean for you?

Hough: I went to high school in Hialeah. It was about 10-12 miles to Joe Robbie Stadium. As a kid, we'd go to Miami Stadium to watch the Orioles in Spring Training, and we'd go up to Fort Lauderdale. And every April, they were gone. Baseball ended. And all of a sudden, after 20-whatever years of playing pro ball, there was going to be a team right down the street from where I grew up. I got a call to come play for them. I didn't know I was going to pitch the first game. They announced it during the spring. I had no idea. I thought they'd give a kid a chance. What do you remember most from the first game?

Hough: I was so happy for the city, because the media kind of accepted us. If you think about that ballclub, some of the guys that played in that game, Walt Weiss went on to be a manager. David [Magadan] at third base. Jeff Conine. We had a lot of really good players, and then we traded a guy they name awards for, Trevor Hoffman, for Gary Sheffield, who wasn't bad. It was a pretty good, talented team. We didn't have the depth to compete with the best, but we had some really good players on that team.

It's like an impossible dream. I think any kid that plays high school ball, you dream of pitching a shutout in the World Series or something. But never once did I think, 'I'll pitch the first game in Florida.' Never even crossed my mind. I was really fortunate to get a chance. I just had a great time. How much teal is in your closet?

Hough: You know what? I have a house in Palm Springs, and that's the one uniform I have in it.