June 15, 2017
By Jon Warech | May 16, 2017 | People
Baseball legend Jeff Conine proves he's still Mr. Marlin, helping The Fish win and giving back to the community he loves.
During his MLB career, Marlins legend Jeff Conine was a two-time National League All-Star and two-time World Series champion, in 1997 and 2003 (shown here taking his turn at bat against the San Francisco Giants in 1994).
A member of both Marlins World Series championship teams, Jeff Conine was dubbed Mr. Marlin early on in his career, and he still carries the nickname today, both as a special assistant to team president David Samson and as a Marlins broadcaster for Fox. As the Miami Marlins enter deeper into the season, the hometown sports hero talks to Ocean Drive about life in and out of baseball.
Which moments stand out to you as a player for the then-Florida Marlins?
The ultimate goal is to win the World Series, so when you think about those big moments—Édgar Rentería’s hit up the middle and Josh Beckett tagging out Jorge Posada—it doesn’t get any better than that.
You had mixed thoughts about the nickname Mr. Marlin. How do you feel about it today?
Early on I didn’t know how I felt about it, but now looking back and people still calling me that, it’s an honor to be recognized as someone who started with this franchise and still works for the same franchise. That’s how people recognize me. A lot of people just call me Mr. Marlin, which is kind of a cool thing.
Do you stay in touch with any of your teammates?
Robb Nen is probably my best friend in baseball. We keep in touch quite a bit and travel once in a while. I just talked to him the other day, and to other guys through Facebook and other means. I just saw Bobby Bonilla. He works for the Players Association. I seem to run into the guys at some point if they stay in the game.
When you came back to the team in 2003, what was that like for you?
Just being able to go back home was huge. When I called my wife and said there was a potential trade to send me back to Florida, she thought I was lying. We made our home base here, we had our kids here, they went to school here—coming back home to play is what you long for.
Tell us about your current dual role with the Marlins.
I go to every home game, sit in on winter meetings for trades, visit the affiliates, suit up for batting practice and get on the field with the guys, and I go to spring training and instruct. I’m in the dugout trying to help these guys be big leaguers because it’s a game of experience. The broadcasting job was presented to me and it didn’t interfere with my duties with the Marlins, so Fox said, “Hey, do you want to try this out?” I really enjoy it. One thing I know how to talk about is baseball.
How do you spend your free time?
I’m still active. I’m playing tennis now. I enjoy golf. I’m kind of a wine collector, so I’m dabbling in that a bit. I still have a son at home and he’s heavily into track, and we are doing a lot of track and field stuff with him. My other son plays at Duke, so we travel up to see him.
How did you become involved with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital?
Right when the team started, in ’93, my wife and I wanted to get involved with a charity and knew we wanted it to be with children. One of my teammates at the time, Orestes Destrade, was going to a luncheon at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and said, “Do you want to go over there?” So we went and Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Lasorda were there, and it was just an amazing organization. We decided shortly thereafter that was what we wanted to direct fundraising efforts toward. We started the golf tournament in 1995 that’s still running, and we’ve raised about $5 million doing it.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY PEDRO PORTAL/MIAMI HERALD/TNS VIA GETTY IMAGES (LORIA); ANDY LYONS/ALLSPORT/GETTY IMAGES (CONINE)