World Series hero Beckett honored in Miami

World Series hero Beckett honored in Miami

MIAMI -- Josh Beckett, the 2003 World Series MVP, returned to his roots on Sunday as the Marlins honored the now retired right-hander from Texas at Marlins Park.

Miami paid tribute with "Josh Beckett Appreciation Day," with the first 10,000 fans at the park receiving replica '03 championship rings.

Beckett, who broke in with the Marlins in 2001, retired after 14 seasons, with his last three being with the Dodgers.

Beckett shuts out Yanks

The 35-year-old's tenure with the Marlins wasn't necessarily a long one, but his five seasons in South Florida were certainly memorable and monumental.

Beckett became the heart and soul of the 2003 title team, etching himself in postseason lore by throwing a shutout to close out the Yankees in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium.

"It was a good group of guys," Beckett said. "We knew we were good. We just weren't playing good at the time. We obviously took off. I don't think anybody was that surprised who knew what kind of guys we had in here."

Jack McKeon, the cigar-chomping manager of the '03 squad, rolled the dice in Game 6, going with Beckett on three days' rest.

"I've got to go with the best," McKeon said Sunday before the Beckett ceremony. "I can't get the Yankees to go to Game 7. I'm not about to give the sixth game away. If they're going to beat us in six, I've got another guy, [Carl] Pavano, who will go on three days' rest. I know the mystique of the Yankees. If you get a chance to go to Game 7, something was going to happen to them. I was going to make sure it didn't."

After being traded to Boston, Beckett won his second championship, in 2007 with the Red Sox. But no team was personally as close to Beckett than the '03 Marlins.

"I have a lot of really close friends off that team than I do off any other team," he said.

Returning from the '03 squad to honor Beckett on Sunday were Mike Lowell, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Gonzalez and Juan Pierre. Marlins third-base coach Lenny Harris played on that team, and Perry Hill was the infield/first base coach then and now. Pavano, a Fox Sports Florida analyst, also was a key contributor. Jeff Conine, part of both Miami title teams, is a special assistant.

Beckett is enjoying retirement, fishing and playing golf. He dealt with injuries the past few years, and believes eventually he will need left hip replacement surgery.

In time, he'd like to return to the game in a broadcasting capacity.

"I'd like to be with those guys at MLB Network," Beckett said. "That, to me, seems like a good gig. A lot of my buddies are over there. I think that's an easier transition. I'm not really in a hurry to do anything right now."

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