Miami Marlins (International League)
The Miami Marlins were a minor league baseball team based in Miami, Florida. The original Marlins were a Triple-A franchise in the International League from 1956 through 1960. The International League team was succeeded by a Single-A team in the Florida State League (now the Fort Myers Miracle) and today's Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball.
Predecessor of modern Gwinnett Braves
The International League Marlins were a transplanted version of the original Syracuse Chiefs. They were created on December 20, 1955, when the Syracuse club (a member of the IL as early as 1886 and a continuous member since 1934) was sold to Sidney Salomon (future founding owner of the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League) and Elliot Stein.
The 1955 Chiefs, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, finished only two games out of the playoffs, but drew only 85,000 fans, last in the eight-team league. In the Marlins' debut season in Miami, the club finished third and attracted 288,000 spectators, second in the IL circuit. Attendance dwindled in the years that followed, however, and by 1960 the Marlins—by then a Baltimore Orioles affiliate—were at the bottom of the IL, with fewer than 110,000 paying fans. The franchise signed a working agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals and moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1961, but after little more than a month of play the Marlins moved again to Charleston, West Virginia on May 19.
In 1962, the franchise moved to Atlanta, discarding the Marlins name and adopting the name of the Atlanta Crackers, a team in the recently disbanded Class AA Southern Association. In 1966, when the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta, the franchise relocated to Richmond, Virginia, where it played as the Richmond Braves for 43 seasons, through 2008. The franchise moved to Gwinnett County, Georgia in 2009, and is currently known as the Gwinnett Braves. The current Syracuse Chiefs club, reformed in 1961, is actually the transplanted Montreal Royals (who, in turn, were originally based in Syracuse as the Stars prior to 1927).
Paige appearance drew 57,000 fans
Notable Marlins during the 1956–60 period were Leroy "Satchel" Paige, the great former Negro Leagues pitcher then in his 50s, three-time league all-star infielder Forrest "Woody" Smith, 1959 IL earned run average champ Artie Kay, and future big-leaguers such as infielder Jerry Adair and pitcher Rudy Árias. The Marlins' managers were Don Osborn (1956–57), Kerby Farrell (1958), Pepper Martin (1959), and Al Vincent (1960). Its home park was Miami Stadium. On August 7, 1956, the largest crowd in minor league history (57‚000) came to see Miami's 50-year-old Paige beat Columbus at the Orange Bowl.
Florida State League edition
There was a separate franchise, also called the Miami Marlins, who played in the Florida State League from 1962–1970 and then from 1982–1988. They became the Miami Orioles from 1971–1981, and the Miami Miracle in 1989. Since 1992, they have been known as the Fort Myers Miracle.
In February 2008, it was announced that the big league Florida Marlins franchise would change its name to the Miami Marlins in 2012, upon moving into its new stadium at the former site of the Orange Bowl.
In June, 2013, a book titled: "THE FORGOTTEN MARLINS: A Tribute to the 1956–1960 Original Miami Marlins" was published by author Sam Zygner.
The IL Miami Marlins were affiliated with the following major league teams:
- Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 1997 edition. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America.
- International League: Encyclopedia II – International League – 1960–1969