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Jeff Conine

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Jeffrey Guy Conine
(Mr. Marlin)

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[edit] Biographical Information

First baseman/oufielder Jeff Conine was a two-time All-Star during his seventeen year career. Best known for his time with the Florida Marlins, he was a member of the club in its inaugural season and was the only player to have played on both of the team's World Series champions.

Originally a pitcher, Conine went 5-4 with a 6.06 ERA and 2 saves in three seasons at UCLA. He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 58th round of the 1987 amateur draft. Moved to first base, he made his pro debut in 1988 with the Baseball City Royals, hitting .272 and leading his club with 10 home runs and 59 RBI. Back with Baseball City the next year, he hit .273 and clubbed 14 homers to lead the team again. He had a breakout season in 1990, hitting .320 with 15 home runs and 95 RBIs, and was named Southern League Most Valuable Player. As a result, he earned a September call-up to the majors. He made his big league debut on September 16th, as a pinch hitter facing the Cleveland Indians, and got his first start and first hit the next day against the Minnesota Twins. Limited to 51 games with the Omaha Royals in 1991 due to a wrist injury, he returned to Omaha in 1992 and hit .302 with 20 homers. He earned another late-season callup to Kansas City that year, hitting .253 in 28 games.

Selected by the Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft, the 26-year-old Conine was the team's Opening Day left fielder and went 4-for-4 with 2 runs scored in the club's first game, a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played in all 162 games that year, hitting a team-best .292 while hitting 12 home runs and driving in 79 runs, and finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting. He improved to .319 with 18 homers in 1994, making the All-Star team, and led the Marlins in batting average, hits (144), doubles (27), triples (6), and RBI (82). He hit .302 with 25 home runs and 105 RBI in 1995 and smashed a game-winning homer in that year's All-Star Game as Florida's sole representative.

Conine put together another fine year in 1996, hitting .293 with a career-best 26 homers. His numbers dipped the following year, when he hit .242 with 17 home runs, but the Marlins reached the postseason for the first time in franchise history. He hit .364 in the NLDS sweep of the San Francisco Giants and .231 with a pair of RBIs in the World Series victory over the Cleveland Indians. However, within a month of the championship, he was dealt back to the Royals for Blaine Mull in a cost-cutting move.

Limited to 93 games due to injuries, Conine hit .256 with 8 homers for the Royals in 1998. Prior to the next season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Chris Fussell. After four and a half years with the O's, he was reacquired by the Marlins on August 31, 2003, a few hours before the deadline to be eligible for post-season rosters, after third baseman Mike Lowell had his wrist broken earlier in the day. He played regularly in left field down the stretch, with rookie Miguel Cabrera moving to third, and was one of Florida's best hitters in the post-season, batting .458 in the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs and .333 in the World Series against the New York Yankees. In 2004, he tied the Marlins record with three grand slams in a season.

Conine became a free agent following the 2005 season and returned to Baltimore to start 2006. In late August, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, and after the season, he was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds. Late in the 2007 campaign, he was traded again, this time to the New York Mets. In 2008, Florida signed Conine to a one-day contract to allow him to retire as a Marlin. He was hired by the team late that year as a special assistant to the president, a position he still holds as of 2012. He became eligible for election to the Hall of Fame in 2013 but did not receive any votes and was dropped from the ballot.

Away from the diamond, Conine and his wife are world-class racquetball players.

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