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A look back at Opening Day homers for players making Marlins debuts

Moises Alou #18 of the Florida Marlins hits a home run during his first at bat as a Marlin in the second inning of the Marlins 4-2 Opening Day win over the Chicago Cubs on April 1, 1997 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Neither Luis Arraez nor Jean Segura was able to leave the yards for the Miami Marlins in Thursday’s season-opening loss to the New York Mets. Over the years, however, there have been a number of new faces for the Marlins who made their presences known.

Here’s a look back at the Florida/Miami players to homer on Opening Day in their Marlins debut.

Kurt Abbott (April 5, 1994 at Los Angeles Dodgers)

A utility infielder with some power in his bat, Kurt Abbott was nearly the hero for the Florida Marlins in their 1994 opener at Dodger Stadium. After hitting three home runs for the Oakland Athletics in 20 games as a rookie in 1993, Abbott’s two-run shot off Jim Gott in the seventh inning gave Florida a 3-2 lead. Unfortunately, that would not hold up in a 4-3 loss. In four seasons with the Marlins, Abbott hit 40 home runs, including three grand slams.

Terry Pendleton (April 25, 1995 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers)

A former world champion with the St. Louis Cardinals and National League MVP with the Atlanta Braves, 34-year-old Terry Pendleton brought a veteran presence to a young Florida Marlins franchise in 1995. In his first at-bat as a member of the Marlins, Pendleton took Ramon Martinez deep for a solo shot to tie the season opener at 2-2. The Marlins lost the game 8-7, but Pendleton was a dependable hitter in his 244 games with Florida. He hit .273 with 21 home runs and 136 RBIs.

Moises Alou (April 1, 1997 vs. Chicago Cubs)

In his lone season with the Florida Marlins, Moises Alou earned All-Star honors and helped the franchise win its first World Series. Alou’s solo home run off Terry Mulholland of the Chicago Cubs accounted for the first run of the season in what served as Alou’s first at-bat for the Marlins in an eventual 4-2 win. Alou’s 23 home runs and 115 RBIs during the regular season led the team. In the 1997 World Series, Alou added three more long balls and made a strong case for MVP.

Eric Owens (April 2, 2001 vs. Philadelphia Phillies)

Acquired in a trade for Mark Kotsay, Eric Owens played two season for the Florida Marlins and hit just nine home runs but the first came in his debut. In a 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, Owens and Cliff Floyd went back-to-back off Omar Daal to open the bottom of the fourth inning. Of the five homers that Owens hit in 2001, three came in April.

Ivan Rodriguez (March 31, 2003 vs. Philadelphia Phillies)

Regarded by many as the greatest catcher of all-time, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez spent just one season with the Florida Marlins but it culminated in the second championship in franchise history. In an 8-5 loss to open the season, Rodriguez plated the Marlins’ first runs of the year with a two-run blast off Kevin Milwood in the sixth inning. A 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner and the 1999 American League MVP, Rodriguez hit .297 with 16 home runs and 85 RBIs in his lone season with Florida.

Hee-Seop Choi (April 4, 2004 vs. Montreal Expos)

A left-handed power bat acquired in a trade that sent Derrek Lee to the Chicago Cubs, Hee-Seop Choi lasted less than a full season with the Florida Marlins but started his tenure with a bang. In his first at-bat, Choi belted a two-run homer off former Marlins World Series MVP Liván Hernández in a 4-3 win over the Montreal Expos. In 95 games with the Marlins, Choi homered 15 times.

Emilio Bonifacio (April 6, 2009 vs. Washington Nationals)

Known for his blazing speed, Emilio Bonifacio hit just seven home runs in four seasons with the Florida/Miami Marlins, but one of those came in his debut. It didn’t leave the park and it came against his former team. In a 12-6 victory over the Washington Nationals, Bonifacio went 4-for-5 with four runs scored and two RBIs. His two-run inside-the-park home run off Julián Tavárez would serve as the lone homer of Bonifacio’s 2009 season and the only inside-the-parker of his career.

John Buck (April 1, 2011 vs. New York Mets)

An All-Star the year before for the Toronto Blue Jays, John Buck wasted little time making his presence felt in his debut as a member of the Florida Marlins. His grand slam off Mike Pelfrey in the fourth inning broke a scoreless tie and turned out to be the difference as the Marlins knocked off the Mets in the season opener, 6-2. A .281 hitter in his lone season with Toronto in 2010, Buck hit just .213 in his two seasons in South Florida with 28 home runs and 98 RBIs.

Neil Walker and Jorge Alfaro (March 28, 2019 vs. Colorado Rockies)

A veteran switch-hitting bat for a rebuilding Miami Marlins franchise, Neil Walker hit just eight home runs in his lone season in South Florida, but the first came in his debut. In a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies, Walker led off the bottom of the eighth inning by hitting the first pitch from Scott Oberg over the wall in right-center field for a solo blast.

Acquired in a trade that sent All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto the Philadelphia Phillies, Jorge Alfaro’s tenure in Miami began with a lot of hope. In his debut, Alfaro capped the scoring with a solo home run in the ninth inning off Colorado’s Seunghwan Oh in what would be a 6-3 loss for Miami.

In three seasons with the Marlins, Alfaro hit .252 with 25 homers and 103 RBIs. In 2019, he hit 18 homers and drove in 57 runs—good for third behind Starlin Castro and Brian Anderson in both categories.

Jesús Aguilar (July 24, 2020 at Philadelphia Phillies)

During a bizarre, COVID-shortened 60-game regular season, Jesús Aguilar proved to be one of the most valuable Marlins as the franchise reached the postseason for the first time in 17 years. In his Miami debut, Aguilar put the Marlins ahead for good with a two-run home run off Aaron Nola in the sixth inning of a 5-2 win. Over three seasons with the Marlins, Aguilar hit 45 home runs, including a team-leading 22 bombs in 2021.

Jacob Stallings (April 8, 2022 at San Francisco Giants)

Jacob Stallings’ first season as a member of the Marlins left plenty to be desired offensively, but his debut surpassed all expectations. After picking off a runner off earlier in the game, Stallings’ two-run blast in the seventh inning off Dominic Leone cut the lead to 3-2. Stallings would add a game-tying single in the ninth before the San Francisco Giants ultimately prevailed in 10 innings, 6-5. Stallings hit just four homers in his first season with the Marlins (all on the road).