Welcome to the big leagues!
It took Miguel Cabrera just 11 innings to introduce himself to the Florida Marlins fans in a big way. His first career home run, a walk-off home run in extras, came during his Major League debut on June 20, 2003.
On Sunday, during his 19th season, the future Hall of Famer added another impressive accomplishment to his extraordinary career: his 500th career home run. Cabrera may have had his best years with the Detroit Tigers, but his only World Series ring came with the 2003 Florida Marlins. I could detail his long list of incredible feats, but you can find that elsewhere. Honestly, the Triple Crown and MVPs don’t mean as much to me as the childhood memories that remain close to my heart.
The Marlins are on a seven-game losing streak, sitting firmly in last place, and have been infuriating to watch lately. But there was a bright spot during Sunday’s telecast when Marlins’ analyst Todd Hollandsworth congratulated his former teammate on the monumental accomplishment and reflected on the special player Cabrera was in his prime.
He hit for average and for power, placing him atop far too many leaderboards to count, and his name is constantly mentioned with the game’s all-time greats. For me, though, mentioning Miggy induces fond memories of my childhood fandom. He and pitcher Dontrelle Willis were my favorite Florida Marlins. That was long before I knew what fire sales were or how something you love so much could break your heart so fast. I don’t remember specific plays or games, but I do remember the feeling of baking under the South Florida sun in the orange seats of the football-turned-baseball stadium. The pure joy I felt watching Cabrera and Willis play baseball for my team remains unmatched.
And even though Miggy and D-Train would get shipped off to Detroit, I don’t have the bitter memories of that time that teenage me harbored after the most recent fire sales. I’ve grown up watching Cabrera’s career blossom in another uniform and somehow that’s okay. He’s making history and continues to remind us that he’s one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. Do I wish it were as a Marlin? Of course. But I suppose Cabrera is one of the last few parts of the game from my childhood and I’m trying to soak up as much joy as I can.
It’s good to take a step back and appreciate the things your childhood self would have enjoyed. Miguel Cabrera’s 500th home run helped me do just that; hopefully 3,000 hits are in his future too. Either way, it’s been a hell of a career. Take a bow, Miggy. You deserve it.