Marlins owner promises team will stay intact
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
MIAMI -- The loudest cheers from the tens of thousands of Marlins fans lined up to celebrate their World Series champions came when team owner Jeffrey Loria made a simple promise: The team won't be broken up.
With that declaration Tuesday, six years of malcontent and mistrust between South Florida baseball fans and the Marlins vanished.
"This is not 1997. This is 2003. We are not dismantling. Thank you," said Loria, who hoisted the World Series trophy as he was ferried in a convertible through the streaming ticker tape and jersey-clad fans.
When Florida won the title in 1997, the celebration was tempered as fans braced for cost cutting by then-owner H. Wayne Huizenga. The result was a last-place finish in 1998 and a steady decline in attendance, which lasted until this year's surprising playoff run.
"In 1997 we were on top of the world," said Danny Parra, a sales representative who brought his two sons to Tuesday's rally. "In '98, we hit rock bottom. I think everybody knows they won't be able to keep everybody, but if they keep a nucleus intact, we'll be happy."
Leaning from windows along the start of the parade route, fans threw clumps of ticker tape.
A victory drive through the city's Little Havana neighborhood followed. Later Tuesday, a boat parade and a second rally were held in Fort Lauderdale for the Marlins, who beat the New York Yankees 2-0 in Game 6 on Saturday night. Officials had predicted that at least 100,000 people would attend the daylong celebration in Miami.