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25-year Marliniversary: Conine’s only career walk-off blast lifts Marlins past Cardinals, 2-1

A Marlins memory from this day in 1997.

Jeff Conine of the Florida Marlins (C) is congratu Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP via Getty Images

During his 17 years in Major League Baseball, Jeff Conine was a career .285 hitter, a two-time All-Star, a two-time world champion and an All-Star Game MVP.

Conine hit 214 career home runs. The majority of those came as a member of the Florida Marlins. His only walk-off blast however, came as a pinch hitter and on this day 25 years ago.

The Marlins had rallied to tie the game in the eighth at Pro Player Stadium on April 17, 1997. In the ninth, Conine’s bomb ended it in a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

For seven and a half innings, a steal of home in the third inning by St. Louis catcher Mike Difelice had accounted for all the offense. Down 1-0 in the eighth, it was Edgar Renteria’s RBI single against Todd Stottlemyre that drew Florida even.

Stottlemyre and Florida starter Kevin Brown were each stellar on the mound. Mark Hutton threw two scoreless innings of relief for the Marlins. As the contest shifted to the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals finally had to go to their bullpen.

Right-hander Mark Petkovsek got Jim Eisenreich to fly out to begin the inning. With one out, Florida manager Jim Leyland looked to Conine to replace Cliff Floyd, who had been 0-for-3 on the afternoon.

With Conine ahead in the count 2-1, Petkovsek was unable to get his pitch far enough in and Conine pulled it down the left field line. The shot was fair with several feet to spare and good for the walk-off home run.

Conine’s blast not only served as the only walk-off home run of his career, but it was also the first pinch hit home run of his career – unless one includes the 1995 All-Star Game. The shot gave the Marlins the win and the series as it came in the rubber game of a three-game set against the Cardinals. It also came on this day a quarter-century ago.