Here's how the Marlins became the Marlins

December 1st, 2021

MIAMI -- On April 5, 1993, at 2:12 p.m. ET, Charlie Hough fluttered a knuckleball to José Offerman that home plate umpire Frank Pulli called a strike.

The pitch was the first in Florida Marlins history, and on that sunny, 80-degree afternoon, the Marlins capped their historic beginning by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-3, in front of 42,334 people at Joe Robbie Stadium.

The expansion Marlins went on to finish 64-98 in their inaugural season, but did you know that "Marlins" wasn’t the first choice to be the team name?

Original owner H. Wayne Huizenga preferred the “Florida Flamingos,” and the late billionaire almost got his way. According to reports in the early 1990s in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Huizenga was talked out of going with the Flamingos by a design director for Major League Baseball Properties.

At the time, teal was becoming a popular color, confirmed by the popularity of the team colors of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Marlins, the fish, feature teal.

After some convincing, Huizenga backed off the Flamingos and any possibilities of the team sporting pink uniforms.

If the fans had their way, the expansion team’s name would have been the Miami Manatees. That was the winner in a “name-the-team” contest, with almost 17,500 results. But Huizenga wasn’t swayed.

Huizenga also considered naming the baseball franchise the Panthers, and eventually, that name was bestowed on Miami's NHL expansion, the Florida Panthers, a team Huizenga also originally owned.

Major League Baseball awarded Huizenga the franchise on June 10, 1991, and the franchise celebrated its inaugural season two years later.

The Marlins' name had long been part of the baseball fabric of South Florida. Twice before it had been used by Minor League affiliates. The original Miami Marlins began play in 1956 as the Triple-A International League affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and later the Class A Florida State League Miami Marlins played from 1962-70 and 1982-88.

As Huizenga haggled over what to name his baseball franchise, his past fishing trips certainly provided him with plenty of clues to go with the Marlins.

According to a July 20, 1991, story in the Sun Sentinel, Huizenga was an accomplished fisherman, who, by that time, had caught more than 60 black marlin “on several forays to Australia, in addition to a number of Pacific blue marlin off Mexico and Panama.”

Huizenga’s son, Ray Goldsby-Huizenga, told the paper: “It’s a strong fish. That’s why my dad named the team Marlins. If you’ve seen how fast a blue marlin can move through the water and how powerful they are, it’s a natural choice.”

The team held the name “Florida Marlins” from 1993-2011. In '12, the “Miami Marlins” were introduced after the team moved into Marlins Park, its nearly 37,000-seat retractable-roof stadium in the Little Havana section of Miami.

The switch was part of the Marlins’ agreement with the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County during negotiations for the new ballpark.