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NFL legend Jimmy Johnson given Miami ceremonial pitch honor

NFL television analyst Jimmy Johnson throws out a first pitch prior to the game between the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves at loanDepot park. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Legendary Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson’s appearance at the Miami Marlins game against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday failed to inspire the Fightin’ Fish as they lost the game.

The 79-year-old, who is now a sports analyst with Fox NFL Sunday, threw the first pitch before the showdown between the Marlins and the Atlanta Braves at LoanDepot Park, with the Braves emerging victorious in a 5-2 win. The stadium is located on the site of the Orange Bowl, the former home of the Miami Hurricanes, where Johnson was head coach in the 1980s.

Johnson remarked on the difference between his old stomping ground and the new stadium: “That stadium was rocking when we had a big game there. There was no better place in the world than being on that field and kicking somebody’s rear end with all the fans screaming and hollering.”

A Hall of Fame NFL coach

The former NFL coach led the University of Miami to victory in the National Championship in 1987 and won the Super Bowl on two occasions with the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and 1993, making him the first head coach to win a college national championship and a Super Bowl.

Johnson revealed that his main concern was getting the ball to reach the home plate and had even prepared for the pitch by searching for rocks equivalent to the weight of a baseball on a couple of his morning walks to see how far he could throw it. In the end, the septuagenarian had been unduly concerned as he succeeded in reaching relief pitcher Richard Bleier at the home plate, although it was outside the strike zone.

He also revealed that he was a baseball enthusiast when he was young and met New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle as a kid. He had also previously thrown the first pitch when Wayne Huizenga owned the Marlins. But this was his first Marlins game at the new stadium and Johnson, who does not mince his words when it comes to sport, expressed his admiration for the home of the Marlins: “It’s beautiful. Really, really nice. I talked to one of my friends who is a big Marlins fan on the phone this morning and he said ‘Oh, it’s great.’ He loves coming to the park, sitting back, and relaxing.”

Facing a season of struggle

The Miami Marlins recorded a defeat against the Atlanta Braves, losing 5-2. On his debut, Chadwick Tromp made a vital contribution to the Braves with three hits and three RBIs.

The Marlins continue to struggle at home with 11 losses out of 12 and have scored three runs or less in each of the last 13 games. The Marlins are rank outsiders to win the 2022 World Series with the bookies and are currently priced at +500000 with BetMGM, who are amongst the best US gambling sites for free bet offers. BetMGM gives the Marlins a slightly better chance of winning the National League, but the odds of +250000 demonstrate that it would be a big shock if they emerged as winners.

The Marlins have a mountain to climb to win the 2022 World Series and require a big improvement to challenge the Dodgers and the Mets. The first step for the Marlins would be to make better use of the home-field advantage.