Marlins alumni thrilled to see Miami reel in Midsummer Classic

Members from World Series championship clubs on hand for All-Star announcement

Marlins alumni thrilled to see Miami reel in Midsummer Classic

MIAMI -- Some of the prominent all-time Marlins players, who endured the scorching heat and countless rain delays at Sun Life Stadium, are glad to finally see South Florida rewarded with an All-Star Game.

In a show of support, seven of the most popular Marlins ever, including Gary Sheffield and Cliff Floyd, attended Friday's announcement that Marlins Park will host the 2017 All-Star Game.

"It means a lot for the organization, it means a ton for the city," Floyd said. "We've seen the growth from a residence standpoint. South Beach is coming back alive. Transportation is getting much better. Everything is living up to what it's supposed to be. I think this is going to be one of the best All-Star Games in recent history."

Along with Floyd and Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo, Alex Gonzalez and Jeff Conine, a Marlins special assistant, were on hand Friday. So was Jack McKeon, the manager of the 2003 World Series title team.

They joined Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez at Marlins Park.  

Sheffield, an All-Star with the Marlins in 1993 and '96, was a big part of the franchise's '97 World Series championship team. The 22-year big leaguer sees trendy South Florida as a perfect fit for Major League Baseball, which is making an effort to attract younger fans.

"It's big, not only for the franchise, but I think for Major League Baseball," Sheffield said. "I've been saying for years, once they gravitate to the hip-hop industry, like the NFL and NBA did, I think it will help the game tremendously, because there are a lot of things the hip-hop industry has to offer."

Miami is a big event destination, and the All-Star Game gives the community another reason to celebrate.

"This is a party town," Sheffield said.

The Marlins were the toast of the town during their 1997 and 2003 World Series championship seasons.

Floyd, Johnson and Sheffield were part of the '97 squad, which was broken up the following season.

"We expected it to be a dynasty," Floyd said. "That's the type of team we had."

Johnson, a two-time All-Star, was the catcher in '97.

"If you look at what we started with the Marlins, and when we built things up in '97, and the dismantling of the teams. These fans have been on a roller-coaster ride," Johnson said. "They are signing some good guys. Hopefully fans can come to the park night in and night out, knowing they have a good team."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.