When the Florida Marlins became the Miami Marlins late last year, the team said it was turning over a new page and starting fresh. While the team's name, uniforms and spending habits have changed, one aspect of the Florida Marlins has carried over to the Miami Marlins: tone-deaf public relations.
The family of the late Carl Barger, the Florida Marlins' first team president, is upset with the team after it announced last weekend it will un-retire Barger's number 5 for current Marlin Logan Morrison.
After Barger died suddenly during the 1992 Winter Meetings, the team retired the number 5 in his honor. Barger's favorite baseball player was Joe Dimaggio, who wore the number with the New York Yankees.
But Morrison had long wanted to wear that number to honor his late father, who idolized the Kansas City Royals legend George Brett (he also wore 5 on his jersey). The team felt the change to the Miami Marlins was reason enough to justify the un-retiring, but Barger's family is not on board with that rationalization.
"It's disappointing," Barger's daughter, Betzi Barger, told the Palm Beach Post Monday. "He gave his life to the Marlins."
"Carl Barger is a very important part of our history," Marlins president David Samson said to the Post. "Our view was that if there was ever something that came along that was truly compelling that we would take a look. And Logan Morrison's story is compelling."
For his part, Morrison tweeted over the weekend, "I also promise to wear the number with great pride and continue to honor Mr. Barger and his family."
The Marlins plan to honor Barger with a plaque at the team's new stadium, but that does not carry the same weight as a retired number. Making it all the worse for Barger's family, the teams did not even bother to consult them about the decision.
"Nobody has contacted us," Barger told the Post. "It's just a disappointment but there's nothing we can do. We're sorry we didn't find out about it except from [the media]."