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This Day In Marlins History: Marlins Sign Amateur Miguel Cabrera

In Fish Stripes' continued attempt to remind people of the past of the Florida Marlins along with the present and future of the Miami Marlins, we bring you a new feature published three or so times a week entitled This Day In Marlins History! The concept itself is very simple: whenever we publish this, we find an interesting fact or tidbit related to the Florida / Miami Marlins and write a little bit about that event.

On this day in 1999, the Marlins signed a player who would one day become one of the best players in team history.

In 1999, the major league version of the Marlins were mired in another awful season filled with losses and mediocre young "talent." The lineup the Fish boasted the evening before against the New York Mets featured such memorable names like Dave Berg, Denny Bautista, and the venerable outfield of Bautista, Preston Wilson, and Mark Kotsay.

Meanwhile, well south of that in the country of Venezuela, the Marlins had scouts and personnel getting ready to sign the next big name on the Fish. On July 2, 1999, the Marlins were able to sign a 16 year-old kid named Miguel Cabrera to a rich amateur free agent deal. The deal was worth $1.8 million, and the Marlins were paid back every penny by a career that turned into one of the best in team history.

Cabrera had been scouted by many teams by the age of 14, but according to this bio, Cabrera favored the Marlins for much of the time he was scouted.

The baseball bird dogs had already started sniffing around after Miguel at this point. The Minnesota Twins sent their scouting director, Mike Radcliff, to Venezuela to evaluate him. The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers were also hot on Miguel’s trail. His favorite team was the Florida Marlins. He watched them win the 1997 World Series with key contributions from fellow Latinos Livan Hernandez and Edgar Renteria.

Supposedly, the Marlins were in line with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees for the bidding war for Cabrera. Of course, being in one of the central regions of Latin American culture in the United States helped the Fish, as did the presence and success of previous amateur signees such as Livan Hernandez and Edgar Renteria. When faced with similar $2 million offers from those other teams, it seemed Cabrera chose the Fish for their dedication to the Latin American players.

The Marlins, however, had the inside track. Their offer—$1.8 million—was more than generous enough, but Miguel’s parents were most impressed by the team’s commitment to developing young Hispanic players. Miguel had to wait until after his 16th birthday to sign. In the meantime, he accelerated his education. When Miguel signed with Florida in July of 1999, rumor has it that George Steinbrenner was so furious that he fired three of his Venezuela scouts.

Any time you can get Steinbrenner extremely mad at your team, it has to be worth a chuckle.

The Marlins signed Cabrera and he reported to the team's minor league Rookie Ball affiliate in 2000. Just three seasons after that year, Cabrera was in the majors, and just a few months after that, he was batting cleanup in the playoffs as the Marlins began their stretch run to a World Series championship.

The rest was history. And it all started on this day in 1999, when a skinny, 16 year-old Venezuelan kid, son of a national softball team member and a former Double-A player, signed on the dotted line to join the Florida Marlins. Boy, were we lucky to have had that happen.

Other notables from this day in Marlins history:

- Happy birthday to Greg Dobbs, the #mostinterestingmaninbaseball. We'll have more on the Dobbster later today.