Cardinals vs. Marlins: Muhammad Ali Rings in New Ballpark

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterApril 4, 2012

A shot of Muhammad Ali from 2010.
A shot of Muhammad Ali from 2010.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Miami Marlins brought out all the stops on Wednesday night for the debut of Marlins Park. They even got "The Greatest" himself involved.

None other than the great Muhammad Ali was involved in the opening ceremonies. After the lineups were introduced, Ali was brought to the infield from center field via a golf cart. When the cart got to the mound, he handed the game ball off to Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez and then posed for pictures with Marlins players.

For those who don't understand the Miami connection, Ali trained in Miami Beach for many years, and he famously defeated Sonny Liston in Miami Beach in 1964 to become the heavyweight champion of the world. That victory was highlighted on the Marlins Park JumboTron.

The decision to include Ali in the festivities was undoubtedly noble, but it was a bittersweet moment. Ali is 70 years old now, and it was abundantly clear while he was being transported to the mound that he is not exactly in the best of health.

It's no secret that Ali has been battling Parkinson's disease for years. Sports fans are used to seeing Ali shake when he's on television. Despite that sense of familiarity, there's no ignoring that Ali's shakes were particularly bad on Wednesday night. It was tough seeing him like that.

Still, you can't fault the Marlins' decision to include Ali. The team clearly wanted the regular-season debut of their new ballpark to be one for the ages, so it makes sense that they would go out and enlist one of the most beloved athletes in the history of the world.

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Now that the Marlins have introduced their beautiful new ballpark, let's see if they can fill it on a regular basis. To do that, they'll have to win.

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