The Name Game

I’m pleased to present this guest post from Gerry Garte, who recently began contributing here. Today, Gerry writes about the many names for the Florida Marlins’ home park. As a bonus, in honor of Thanksgiving, Gerrys closes with a Baseball: Past and Present first: a poem. Long ago, sportswriters like Grantland Rice published books of verse, but that kind of thing has been curiously absent from the blogosphere, sports media in general, and definitely this Web site.

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It was a couple months ago when I first saw the huge Sun Life Stadium sign. I had gone to see the Marlins face the visiting Cardinals.

About 23 years before that, the stadium had opened as Joe Robbie Stadium, new home of the Miami Dolphins in northwest Dade County.  Joe Robbie was owner of the Dolphins when they joined the American Football League in 1966. In 1970, he hired Don Shula away from the Baltimore Colts.

Unlike most stadiums that have been built in the past 30 years, Joe Robbie Stadium was built solely through private funding.

At the time, my parents lived about seven or eight miles directly east of the stadium. When the Dolphins had a night game at home, a roaring stadium crowd could often be heard at my folks’ house.

Mr. Robbie had the stadium built to also accommodate a future MLB club. In 1990, he passed away. But three years later, after the Marlins gained admittance to the National League, they played their baseball at Joe Robbie.

In 1996, the name-changing craziness started. Since then, the stadium has had six different names: Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Land Shark Stadium and now Sun Life Stadium.

No other current ballpark in Major League Baseball has had near as many name changes.

Here’s a quick rundown of current baseball stadiums that have endured name changes:

Angels:  Anaheim Field to Edison International Field of Anaheim to Angel Stadium of Anaheim

A’s:  Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to Network Associates Coliseum to McAfee Coliseum back to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Blue Jays:  Skydome to Rogers Centre

Diamondbacks:  Bank One Ballpark to Chase Field

Giants: Pacific Bell Park to SBC Park to AT&T Park (Editor’s note: The Simpsons recently made light of this in the SABR-themed episode, “Moneybart.”)

Indians:  Jacobs Field to Progressive Field

Royals:  Royals Stadium to Kauffman Stadium

White Sox:  new Comiskey Park to U.S. Cellular Field

In 2012, the Marlins will be moving to their own stadium, located at the downtown site of the former Orange Bowl, which housed the original Dolphins and the University of Miami. Hopefully, whatever name is chosen for the stadium (currently Marlins Ballpark) will stick.

I know money talks when stadium name-changes are discussed. But for my money and my memory, it’s best to keep name changes to a minimum.

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In celebration of the great American holiday, Thanksgiving, I offer a poem:

Giving Thanks

The coast of New England, a harvest grown strong
The pilgrims of Plymouth work hard and work long.
A festival of feast, for thanksgiving they pray
Gathered in worship, with faith they did stay.
America’s birth, its patriotic splendor
The fourth of our Thursdays in the month of November.
–Gerry Garte
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Gerry Garte belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research. Email him at garte@comcast.net

0 thoughts on “The Name Game”

  1. Stadium name changes are not strictly a modern phenomenon. Wrigley Field, Connie Mack Stadium, and Crosley Field, among others, all underwent name changes at some point in their history. However, in such cases, one or two changes occurred during a decades-long history of the stadium, in contrast to the recent pattern in Florida and elsewhere.

  2. You can’t really count Royals Stadium. That’s went from a generic, named after the team name to a name honoring an individual. They didn’t sell out, and haven’t, in re-naming the stadium for advertising rights.

    The main reason being is that the Royals don’t own the stadium. Jackson County does and the Royals are in a perpetual lease. They didn’t pick the original name, didn’t change, and don’t have the right to sell (out).

    There is a big difference between KC and the others.

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