Marlins celebrate anniversary of 2003 title

BY foxsports • August 4, 2013

Former manager Jack McKeon was back in Miami for a weekend reunion of the Marlins' 2003 World Series championship team, joking that he's ready to mount another comeback after undergoing double-bypass heart surgery two months ago.

''With this new heart, why not?'' said McKeon, 82. ''I asked for a guarantee, and I got a 20-year warranty.''

McKeon was 72 when he came out of retirement in May 2003 and led the Marlins' run to the World Series title. Thirteen of his players were introduced before Sunday's game as they celebrated the 10th anniversary of that improbable season.

The pregame ceremony included a video greeting from slugger Miguel Cabrera, now with the Detroit Tigers.

Also absent was Ozzie Guillen, a coach with the 2003 Marlins and their manager during a disastrous 2012 season. He wasn't invited to the reunion.

Among those present were Juan Pierre - still active with the Marlins - and first-year Marlins manager Mike Redmond.

''Hopefully we have one of these every year. I'd come,'' said former pitcher Carl Pavano, who was making his first visit to 16-month-old Marlins Park.

McKeon came out of retirement to manage the Marlins for three months in 2011, then retired as the second-oldest manager in major league history. He often jokes he hopes to return in a few years to surpass Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia Athletics until age 87.

Mike Lowell, the third baseman on the 2003 team, said he likes McKeon's chances.

''I don't know if he's going to know the players' names,'' Lowell said, ''but he didn't really know our names either.''

The 2003 Marlins made the playoffs as a wild-card team, then beat the Giants, Cubs and Yankees in the postseason, coming from behind in all three series.

Josh Beckett shut out New York 2-0 in the World Series-clinching Game 6. Pavano, who was scheduled to start Game 7 if necessary, recalls encouraging Beckett throughout the game.

''I was in the dugout telling him, `Josh, I'm not pitching tomorrow. I can't handle the stress. I'm too old for this. You'd better finish this game,''' Pavano said with a grin. ''Thank God he did.''