There is one man who is associated with the Miami Marlins‘ franchise more than any other and that is Jeff Conine. The biggest honor that can be bestowed upon a player by his former team is a retiring of his number. Currently, the Marlins have no retired numbers outside of the universally retired No. 42 for Jackie Robinson. It’s time for them to add one of their own to the wall in left center field at Marlins Park. Conine should receive that honor because nobody else is as deserving as Mr. Marlin himself.
Conine was a member of both World Championships in 1997 and 2003, and played a pivotal role in securing those titles for the Marlins. When people think of Conine, they remember his consistency at the plate and his leadership in the locker room. For parts of eight years, he was a Marlin and wore two numbers during his days. Conine was No. 19 at first and No. 18 later on due to the addition of Mike Lowell, who took over No. 19. Anibal Sanchez would also go on to wear No. 19 while playing for the Marlins. Currently, the number is assigned to Rob Brantly, who is unlikely to be on the 2014 Opening Day roster.
As far as statistics go, Conine was a better hitter than many may recall. In those eight seasons with the Marlins, Conine slashed .290/.358/.455 which is more than respectable. He also took home the All-Star Game MVP Award in 2005 which was his second straight appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic. In the playoffs, those stats held up as his career postseason statistics tallied a slash-line of .304/.365/.382. The glove was there for Conine as well despite playing five different positions during his career. He was always a dependable player no matter where he played in the field or where he hit in the lineup.
Today, Conine serves as a Special Assistant to the owner for the Marlins and also is frequently seen on Fox Sports Florida. There’s one more place he needs to be seen and that’s on the field for a number retirement ceremony. It’s more than past due and the Marlins should embrace their history by making this moment happen as soon as possible. No man should ever wear No. 19 again for the Marlins, and every fan that walks into the building should be able to glance at the outfield wall and see Conine’s number hanging in all its glory.