20-year Marliniversary: Cabrera hits walk-off homer in MLB debut

A Marlins memory from this day in 2003.

A Marlins memory from this day in 2003.

Some might argue that Miguel Cabrera is the greatest hitter of his generation. The lone Triple Crown winner since 1967, Cabrera made his debut on this day 20 years ago and it was a memorable one.

Then a member of the Florida Marlins, Cabrera’s first career hit was a walk-off two-run home run in the 11th inning. Cabrera’s blast lifted the Marlins to a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Cabrera was 0-for-4 in his big-league debut as he came to bat against Al Levine in the bottom of the 11th at Pro Player Stadium on June 20, 2003. Álex González doubled with one out in the inning and represented the winning run at second. Cabrera needed just a single to end the contest but ended up with something much more memorable.

Levine left a fastball out over the middle of the plate and Cabrera belted it over the wall in centerfield as Florida took the first game of the three-game series. It would go on to sweep the Devil Rays.

Tampa Bay’s lone run came on a sacrifice fly from Aubrey Huff in the first inning. The Marlins tied the game in the fourth on an RBI groundout from Andy Fox before winning it in extras.

Each team finished with six hits. Gonzalez had two hits for the Marlins. Catcher Toby Hall had two hits for the Devils Rays.

Just 20 years old at the time, Cabrera would spend five seasons with the Marlins, winning one World Series and making an All-Star Game in each of his last four seasons with the club. Now a member of the 500-homer club, Cabrera hit 138 home runs for Florida. The first served as a walk-off bomb on this day two decades ago. 

Photo by Mike Albans/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

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