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This Day in Marlins History: John Henry Becomes the Marlins Owner

Fifteen years ago, on January 19, 1999, the sale of the Marlins from H. Wayne Huizenga to John Henry was completed.

Oli Scarff

Many years after bringing a Major League Baseball franchise to South Florida, then-Marlins owner, H. Wayne Huizenga, agreed to sell the team to John Henry. The decision to sell the franchise came after Huizenga was unable to secure a deal for a new baseball-only stadium for the Marlins. The sale was also mainly the result of reported financial losses by the franchise, despite having one of the better early histories by an expansion sports franchise, which included a World Series title in the franchise's fifth season of existence.

After the franchise had been on the market for a couple of years, Huizenga and Henry came to an agreement. Afterward, the sale was unanimously approved on January 13, 1999. The deal was completed on January 19, 1999 and John Henry was introduced as the Chairman of the Marlins on the following day.

During Henry's time as Marlins owner, the promise from the franchise was that they would be doing anything needed in order to get a new stadium for the Marlins. It was also a promise of a franchise moving toward a new direction of becoming a franchise that would make transactions based on baseball decisions, rather than financial ones.

The promise under Henry's ownership of the Marlins was being followed through, and reached a peak, when John Henry was able to reach a stadium agreement with City of Miami officials that became the first major step in building the new Marlins stadium. This combined with a young team that was improving every season to make it a time for optimism for Marlins fans. However, it was an optimism that would be short-lived.

After many difficulties and setbacks to finalize an agreement for the new Marlins stadium, Henry decided to sell the team in a multi-franchise deal to Jeffrey Loria, the then owner of the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals). In the deal, Henry became the owner of the Boston Red Sox. With this transaction, any built up or remaining fan optimism for the franchise under Henry was destroyed. Additionally, to many Marlins fans, the fact that Henry opted to own a large market team over the Marlins was viewed as a huge betrayal, which earned Henry the label of a quitter and a traitor, amongst many other negative labels. To fuel more anger toward Henry from his former fan base, there was the additional aspect that there were questions about the ethics involved with such a deal and how it was handled by Henry, Loria, and MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig.

After sorting out all of the wrinkles in the sale, on January 16, 2002, the other MLB owners approved the overall deal. Once finalized, John Henry's time as Marlins owner ended about three years after he bought the team. For the next several months after the sale, the new Marlins leadership proceeded with making changes that were perceived as salary dumps. However, Marlins fans would get immediate satisfaction after the franchise won its second championship a year and a half after Henry sold the team - a year before Henry's newly acquired Red Sox would break the "Curse of the Bambino". The time of Henry owning the team can be remembered this day, fifteen years after he bought the team.