Joe Girardi and Don Mattingly have won National League Manager of the Year as skippers for the Florida/Miami Marlins. Jim Leyland managed the club to its first World Series, but when it comes to Marlin skippers, there’s no one quite like Jack McKeon.
McKeon took over for the fired Jeff Torborg during the 2003 season. After falling 10 games under .500 at one point, McKeon managed the Florida Marlins to their second world championship. On this day 10 years ago, the franchise decided that for McKeon, one stint wasn’t enough.
McKeon retired after the 2005 season, but after a 32-40 start to the 2011 campaign, a change was necessary. Edwin Rodriguez had been fired and after Brandon Hyde served one game as manager, the 80-year-old McKeon was introduced as the interim manager on June 20, 2011.
The turnaround under McKeon was far from miraculous as the team finished 72-90 and just 40-50 during his tenure. Early on however, he did provide a spark for a young roster and pitching staff.
As he had in 2003, McKeon took Florida from 10 games under back to the .500 mark. From June 29 to Aug. 2, the Marlins went 21-10 to get to 55-55 for the season. Unfortunately for McKeon and Florida, they would never get over .500.
After a stretch that saw the club drop 22 of 27 games, the Marlins fizzled out of contention. The final win for the team came by a 3-2 score over the Washington Nationals on Sept. 28 on a walk-off home run by Bryan Petersen. The following day, the Marlins lost 3-1 to Washington in what would be the final game at Sun Life Stadium and the final game for the team as the Florida Marlins.
A baseball lifer, McKeon is now 90 years old and hasn’t managed since. The only franchise that he managed to a world championship however, gave him one last shot to do what he loved at the big-league level. It happened on this day a decade ago.