30-year Marliniversary: Marlins grounds crew steals the show—for all the wrong reasons

On this day 30 years ago, the grounds crew stole the show as it took 11 minutes to get the tarp onto the infield.

On this day 30 years ago, the New York Mets beat that Florida Marlins 10-9 in a crazy 12-inning contest, but the most memorable part of the contest had little to do with anyone in uniform. As close and competitive as the game was on the field, it paled in comparison to the Marlins’ grounds crew’s battle with the tarp. As the contest went into a rain delay, the crew kept the Joe Robbie Stadium crowd entertained on June 29, 1993—even if only by accident.

With the contest tied 1-1 through three innings, the skies opened up. The grounds crew sprung into action, but they started with a critical mistake: they unrolled the tarp deep in right field.

As the tarp was unrolled, it became heavy from all the water accumulated. It took multiple tries and 11 total minutes. Laughs were seen from both dugouts as players, coaches, and fans watched in amazement.

By the time the tarp finally covered the infield, the rain had stopped. With puddles now all along the infield, the grounds crew spent the rest of the 88-minute delay making the field playable.

As for the game, it had its fair share of excitement, too. The Mets led 6-1 before the Marlins pushed across seven runs in the seventh, highlighted by three-run homers from Rick Renteria and Jeff Conine.

After Eddie Murphy’s solo home run on the first pitch of the eighth inning cut the Mets’ deficit to 8-7, Jeff Kent put New York back in front with a two-run shot. Florida was down to its last strike in the bottom of the ninth before Greg Briley singled home Benito Santiago to force extra innings.

The Mets went ahead for good on a sacrifice fly from Tim Bogar off Matt Turner in the top of the 12th. In addition to shots from Murray and Kent, Jeromy Burnitz and Todd Hundley also homered for the Mets. Santiago had the lone three-hit game while Burnitz did likewise for New York. Renteria finished with a game-high four RBIs.

With four hours and 20 minutes of game time and a rain delay totaling nearly an hour and a half, it was nearly 1:30 a.m. before the fans who stayed the duration were finally able to make their way to the exit. Despite 19 runs, 31 hits and 12 innings of baseball, it was the gaffe from the grounds crew that remains in the memories of baseball fans to this day. The infamous incident came three decades ago.

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for Fish on First, who covers Miami Marlins history. Follow Mike on Twitter (@MikeWFerguson).

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