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.
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:
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 belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org