Former Florida Marlins closer Bryan Harvey remembers the team’s teal caps, the franchise’s first game and a nightmarish June night for the Joe Robbie Stadium grounds crew.
Atop Harvey’s memories of 1993 is his joining Gary Sheffield in being the Marlins’ first All-Stars.
“Representing the expansion team and being one of the original guys was pretty nice,” Bryan Harvey said on the phone from Catawba, N.C. “The game was in Baltimore, and I still have a picture of me and Gary that we took there — both of us in our gray uniforms and our teal hats. The photo’s signed and I still have it up.”
Harvey and Sheffield both played at Camden Yards on July 13, 1993, when the National League lost to the American League 9-3.
Sheffield, whom Florida had acquired from San Diego just 19 days earlier, started at third base for NL. He went 2 for 3, including a two-run home run in the first off California Angels lefty Mark Langston.
Harvey, who as an Angels All-Star had not pitched in the 1991 game in Toronto, pitched a scoreless eighth in 1993. He struck out Cleveland’s Carlos Baerga and gave up a single to Chicago’s Frank Thomas — who was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice by Devon White — before fanning Texas’ Juan Gonzalez.
“Obviously, that was a good time to be an original Marlin and be an All-Star,” Harvey said.
The Marlins inaugural season proved to be Harvey’s last full one in the big leagues, as injuries forced his retirement in 1997 at 34.
Harvey’s All-Star appearance isn’t the only fond Marlins memory for the former right-hander, who relied on a fastball and nasty forkball delivered overhand with a big shoulder turn.
“That first year, everything was great and everybody was excited,” he said. “I know Mr. (Wayne) Huizenga was excited to have a team. I knew most of the guys on the coaching staff we had — (pitching coach) Marcel and (manager) Rene Lachemann, Doug Rader. And I had played with some of the guys on the team, so it was a very, very exciting year. I know the fans were excited. Everything we did was a first, so everything was good.
“Some days it seems like yesterday, and some days it seems like it never happened. Time’s going by so fast.”
Harvey earned the first of his 45 saves that season in Florida’s 6-3 Opening Day victory on April 5. Veteran knuckleballer Charlie Hough started and got the win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It had rained and we weren’t sure if we were going to get to play but everything worked out,” Harvey said. “I can remember the umpire (Frank Pulli) calling the balls and strikes. Charlie struck out Jose Offerman to start the game, and then Offerman struck out to end the game.”
Harvey also remembered other things from 1993, such as the Marlins’ teal caps and T-shirts with pinstriped white vests.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” he said. “We also had the black hat that we wore some, but with the teal, we stood out. We were a little different.”
Harvey laughed when recalling the grounds crew’s efforts in the third inning of a stormy June 29 game against the New York Mets.
“If we had the new stadium back then we would have missed out on that night against the Mets,” Harvey said. “When the tarp crew couldn’t get the tarp on the field, they dragged the tarp all the way out to the outfield in right and got a running start.
“Here they come, running in … and when that thing hit the dirt, it stopped — six guys went straight up in the air. It was pretty hilarious.”
Harvey spent three years as a minor league pitching coach for the Colorado Rockies and still checks the box scores for the Angels and Marlins.
“I love putting on the uniform and going back to the field, it’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “I’m not crazy being away from home like I used to be. I have a 3-year-old granddaughter now and another on the way, so it’s fun being at home.”
Harvey currently owns and operates Diamond Dreams Design, a company that offers instruction and products designed to develop successful young athletes.
He also has had two sons drafted by major league teams. Kris, 29, was drafted as an outfielder/third baseman by the Marlins in 2005 before being converted to a pitcher. He played in the Pittsburgh Pirates system last year.
Right-hander Hunter Harvey, 18, signed with Baltimore after being a first-round selection in June.
Harvey’s 25-year-old daughter Whitney suffers from Angelman syndrome, a rare neuro-genetic condition that makes it impossible for her to talk or care for herself.
“There are people with Angelman syndrome who have lived to 55-60 years,” Harvey said. “She’ll be with me and her mom for the rest of her life, but it really has been a blessing. Things we take for granted, she don’t even care about. She keeps us grounded.”