My “Down Under” pal and former client, Brett Simmons, took me to a Las Vegas 51’s baseball game last week. This was only the second time that I’ve gone to see this Dodgers’ top farm club since moving to Las Vegas three years ago. I was reminded why at the game. I’ve been to countless (to the tune of thousands) major league games, and, to be blunt, seeing minor league anything sucks! The only thing worse than being a spectator in the minors is no doubt playing in the minors; I was reminded of Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham throughout. But there’s no way to be bored with my Australian “mate” Brett Simmons with me, with or without his crocodile.
Story of the Week
Have you ever had a friend you’ve never met personally? I have! His name is Norm Gibson, and he’s with a major institutional investment house in Canada. We made a connection quite circuitously via telephone some time ago. He’s been a super friend to me, and I greatly appreciate it. Norm is from Ireland living in Toronto, and he’s an avid Miami Dolphins fan. He told me his favorite player was Dan Marino. So Norm, this article is for you.
The Miami Dolphins found University of Pittsburgh quarterback Dan Marino still available when it came time to make their first pick in the 1983 NFL draft. Five other quarterbacks, including Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and John Elway, had been taken before Miami grabbed Marino with the 27th. overall pick.
Marino earned the starting role early in his rookie season and for the next 17 years the fortunes of the franchise rode on his shoulders. By the time he retired following the 1999 NFL season, Marino had literally rewritten the passing section of the NFL’s record book.
After two earlier relief appearances, Marino became the Dolphins starter in the sixth week of his rookie season. He immediately took charge of the Dolphins’ offense and guided the team to a 12-4 record and the AFC East title. Marino threw 20 touchdowns and recorded a 96.0 passer rating to earn Rookie of the Year honors. He was also named to the first of his nine Pro Bowl selections.
Marino’s performance the following season was unlike any seen in NFL history as he guided the Dolphins to a 14-2 record and a division crown. He became the first player ever to pass for 5,000 yards in a single season, finishing at 5,084. His 48 touchdown passes obliterated the previous record of 36. By season’s end, he had set six league records and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. In the 1984 AFC Championship Game, Marino passed for 421 yards and threw four touchdowns in the Dolphins’ 45-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That earned him his first and only trip to the Super Bowl. Miami fell to the San Francisco 49’ers in that game.
Marino’s passing prowess continued at a record pace, and by the end of the 1995 season, he overtook Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton in career passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. Marino’s career totals are staggering as he completed 4,967 passes for 61,361 yards, and threw 420 touchdowns during his 242-game NFL career.
On the first ballot in his first year of eligibility, Dan Marino was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February of this year. His only regret during his brilliant career was not having earned a Super Bowl ring.
Last Week’s Trivia
Thanks again to Lewis Bettman of St. Louis, my friend of many years. In 1920, St. Louis Browns’ George Sisler established the record for most hits in one MLB season, 257. In 2004, Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners eclipsed that mark with 262 of his own.
Trivia Question of the Week
This one is compliments of my cousin Lenny Adams of Chicago. Who is the only MLB pitcher to throw a complete nine inning no-hitter and still lose the game? (Note: We’re talkin’ nine innings, so Harvey Haddix’ famous feat is not the answer.) See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.