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Catching up with the 1993 Marlins

Hough, Destrade, Barberie and Harvey were among the first Fish to test the waters in the franchise's inaugural season
MLB.com @DougMillerMLB

It's been about a quarter-century since the Florida Marlins took the field for the first time. On that day, April 5, 1993, in front of 42,334 fans in Joe Robbie Stadium, a Major League franchise was born, signaling the dawn of a new era. Since then, the Marlins have won two World Series championships and are now hosting their first All-Star Game in their sparkling stadium.

Catching up with four of the original members of the team provides a lot more than an update on their lives or nostalgia for the good old days of teal and black uniforms. As it turns out, all four have made sure that baseball remained a major part of their lives, and their memories of shared experiences as trailblazers in South Florida fills them with pride.

It's been about a quarter-century since the Florida Marlins took the field for the first time. On that day, April 5, 1993, in front of 42,334 fans in Joe Robbie Stadium, a Major League franchise was born, signaling the dawn of a new era. Since then, the Marlins have won two World Series championships and are now hosting their first All-Star Game in their sparkling stadium.

Catching up with four of the original members of the team provides a lot more than an update on their lives or nostalgia for the good old days of teal and black uniforms. As it turns out, all four have made sure that baseball remained a major part of their lives, and their memories of shared experiences as trailblazers in South Florida fills them with pride.

Charlie Hough

If you're starting a story about the original members of a franchise, it's wise to begin with its first starter. Hough was a 45-year-old knuckleballer wintering in his Southern California home and wondering if he'd get another shot at the Big Leagues after 202 victories for the Dodgers, Rangers and White Sox, when the phone rang.

"My agent told me there was an opportunity with an expansion team," Hough said. "Okay, that sounds interesting. Then he says Miami. Well, I went to Hialeah High School, which was 10 miles from Joe Robbie Stadium. I had family in the Miami area. Needless to say, I was so excited about it. And it turned out to be a wonderful experience for my last years."

Hough got the win on Opening Day 1993, giving up three runs over six innings in a 6-3 victory over the Dodgers. He'd go 9-16 with a 4.27 ERA for a team that would finish 64-98 and sixth in the National League East, but that's not what he remembers most.

"The Marlins wanted somebody with experience to help lead a young pitching staff," said the 25-year veteran. "I got to finally pitch at home. I loved the general manager [Dave Dombrowski], loved the owner [Wayne Huizenga], loved the manager [Rene Lachemann], and loved the pitching coach [Marcel Lachemann]. I couldn't write it up any better than that."

Since then, Hough has continued to write his baseball story. He retired a Marlin after the 1994 season, had his first hip replacement in 1995 and had his other hip replaced shortly thereafter. With the new joints, he's since embarked upon a coaching career that has taken him to various locales throughout the Minors and the Majors (Dodgers in 1998-99, Mets in 2001-02). These days, he's in player development for the Dodgers, working with pitchers throughout the system -- and acting as an occasional knuckleball guru.

"If a guy's a pro with a chance to make it to the Big Leagues and wants to try to throw a knuckleball, he's probably going to try to reach me, Phil Niekro or Timmy Wakefield," Hough said. "But you can't really look for knuckleballers. You kind of stumble into them."

For 40 years, Hough has lived in the same house in California with his wife, Sharon, and says he's blessed to have been involved with baseball for most of his life. "I signed when I was 18, and all I've ever done is baseball, one way or another," he said. "When it's in your blood, it's what you do."

Video: LAD@FLA: Hough throws a strike for the Marlins

Orestes Destrade

Destrade can't agree with Hough enough. The Cuba-born slugger didn't appear on the Major League scene as a player for long, but his presence -- and his bat -- made an impact that still resonates with Florida baseball fans today. 

Destrade's family emigrated from the island nation when he was 6 years old, and he grew up in Miami, graduating from Coral Park High School. He debuted in the Major Leagues with the Yankees in 1987 but built a reputation as a slugger in Japan, helping the Seibu Lions to a Japan Series title in 1990. On Dec. 15, 1992, a dream came true for Destrade. He signed as a free agent with the brand-new Major League team playing in his backyard, turning down a more lucrative contract from his Japanese team to do so. 

"What it meant for that South Florida area to have a Major League team and to be a part of it, it was humbling and a source of pride," Destrade said. "Knowing that my parents, Cuban immigrants that left everything behind in 1968 with my brother, Albert, to create a life for us, it all came forward at that moment."

Destrade led the 1993 Marlins in home runs (20) and RBI (87) but only stuck around the Big Leagues for part of the strike-shortened 1994 campaign before finishing off his career in '95 back in Japan. It wasn't long before he'd get back into the game, though.

The former first baseman joined the Tampa Bay Rays' front office in 1998, entered the baseball broadcasting realm in 2001, and has since done radio and TV work with XM, ESPN and now Fox, for whom he does Rays pre- and postgame shows, as well as Spanish in-game broadcasts. 

"I'm still talking about the game that I love," Destrade said. "As I remember somebody telling me once, 'Try to find something that is your job but isn't really work.' So I'm definitely blessed. The fans in Miami that still remember me from the Marlins days and the new group of fans that have followed, it's something I hold dear to my heart.

"And now an All-Star Game in that beautiful stadium in Miami. It's a big deal and I'm very proud of Miami."

Bret Barberie

Out in California, Barberie never lets the 1993 Marlins stray far from his mind. But the same goes for any type of fish, really. 

Barberie, who hit .277 as the second baseman for that inaugural team and collected the club's first-ever hit, went on to play three more years in the Majors. He now teaches baseball at his own facility alongside fellow former Major Leaguers Rene Gonzalez and Rich Rodriguez. But these days, his passion isn't fly balls; it's the art of fly fishing.

"It's the challenge," Barberie said. "You're trying to trick this fish into taking a fly you tied. You're trying to present it in a way for the fish to come off that bank or behind that rock, to take a shot at that fly. 

"It's the excitement of that strike and setting that hook. Getting up early, staying late, the feeling once you set that hook and you've got a fight on, and you've still got to land it. Plus, you're doing it outside with the beauty of nature all around you."

Barberie frequently weekends at his house in the Sierra Nevada mountains and takes trips to Idaho to fish. He says he's planning to pursue fly fishing full-time, as he puts it, "when I'm really retired." 

But for now, he's still entrenched in baseball, and as he ponders how the city of Miami will embrace All-Star Week, he can't help but wax nostalgic for that magical first season.

"The whole town was so gung-ho for the whole thing," Barberie said. "It was really neat seeing it all come together and making it happen. I love that town. I'm just happy that the team's still there and that people are still supporting it. 

"It's a great town. It was humid, but I got used to it and I loved playing in it."

Bryan Harvey

So did Harvey, which is not surprising considering that the Marlins' original mustachioed closer was a North Carolina boy used to the sticky days of summer. Still is, too. These days, Harvey is a family man in Catawba, N.C. Like many of his former teammates from that Florida club, he's still in baseball.

Harvey, who was one of the Marlins' first All-Stars in '93, went on to coach with the Rockies for three years. He then decided he'd rather stay home with his two granddaughers around, so he and his older son established a local baseball academy. They have six teams -- and their own way of doing things.

"My biggest thing is keeping kids healthy," Harvey said. "I am not a fan of playing four or five games in two days. I am not a fan of kids pitching three or four innings on Saturday and four or five innings on Sunday. We do not do that. We're trying to get these kids to understand the game a little better. We're more in development stages at our academy than a win-at-all-costs attitude."

Harvey can't contain his happiness when reminiscing about the 1993 Marlins. He says he'll never forget that season, nor the people that embraced the team with joy and unbridled enthusiasm.

Video: LAD@FLO: Marlins win first game in franchise history

"How can you not just remember Opening Day?" Harvey said with a chuckle. "It had rained, and Charlie Hough goes out and pitches outstanding. I get the save, and we're in first place … for a day!

"Everything that year was exciting. Everything was new."

This article appears in the 2017 MLB Official All-Star Game Program. Read more features on allstargame.com.

Doug Miller is a national writer for MLB.com.