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
"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
Keeping the team intact means manager Jack McKeon will be back
next year. He agreed to a one-year extension, Loria announced
during the celebration.
"I have some good news and a little bad news. The good news is
Jack is coming back," Loria said. "The bad news is there's no bad
McKeon, 72, took over when manager Jeff Torborg was fired in May
and engineered the Marlins' turnaround from last place team to
World Series champions.
"I always had no doubt I was coming back," said McKeon, who
refused to formally announce his intentions during the season.
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
Leaning from windows along the start of the parade route, fans
threw clumps of ticker tape while some commuter trains were
plastered with signs declaring: "We love the Marlins."
A victory drive through the city's Little Havana neighborhood
followed. City workers shredded 2 tons of paper to serve as ticker
tape while banners and balloons streamed off office buildings along
the route festooned with freshly painted team and World Series
Later in Fort Lauderdale, a boat parade and second rally
celebrated the Marlins, who beat the New York Yankees 2-0 on
Saturday night to win the title in six games.
Marlins players glided along New River on cigarette boats with
their names on the side as crowds on the shore cheered and
fireworks were lit off from nearby bridges. The team disembarked at
Los Olas Riverfront, where fans went crazy.
In Miami, Mayor Manny Diaz walked onto the stage with a staffer
carrying a sign that read: "If we build it, will you come?" Diaz
and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas have been talking to the
Marlins for several months about new stadium possibilities, but no
plans have been completed.
"The fact that they won the World Series doesn't mean we're
going to give away the kitchen sink," Penelas said. "There's got
to be four players in this lineup. The team's got to come to the
table with a significant amount of money, the county's got to put
its part, the city of Miami ... and the state's got to put a piece
The Marlins won the World Series with a modest $54 million
payroll, and yet still were projected to lose millions this season
-- in part because they lease stadium rights from Huizenga and do
not have the same sources of revenue that other teams enjoy.
Officials had predicted that at least 100,000 people would
attend the daylong celebration in Miami. Police officers declined
to release an official estimate Tuesday.