Burns visits Dolphin Stadium

Ken Burns, of film and documentary fame, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Dolphin Stadium on Wednesday.

A baseball historian, Burns is in South Florida promoting a film on the national parks, like the Everglades.

The historian, who claims baseball remains the best game, praises the Marlins for being an expansion team that has already claimed a couple of World Series titles. In 1997, in the fifth year of the franchise, Florida claimed a title. Then in 2003, the Marlins won it all again.

“This is an expansion team with a quick route to a World Series championship,” Burns said. “That’s pretty good news.”

What hurts a comparatively new team like the Marlins, who began play in 1993, is the fact there are so many entertainment alternatives. In markets like New York, Chicago and Boston, baseball has long been part of the fabric of the community.

“It’s a concern because we have so much competition,” Burns said. “When I was growing up, there was nothing. Football was just taking off.

“The only game was baseball. Now the competition for dollars, and there is more entertainment. But it’s still the best game around.”

Burns points out that the NFL, under former commissioner, the late Pete Rozelle, did an excellent job promoting his sport.

“I don’t know how baseball let Rozelle let football get ahead of baseball on this national pastime business,” Burns said. “Because when you aggregate all the baseball markets, and all the games that we play, there is a much bigger audience than who watches football. They get their Super Bowl, which is understandable, but it’s a one-time thing.

“Even our one-time thing [World Series], it’s potentially seven times a one-time thing. I just think we’ve got to do a better job selling it, and bringing it back.”

The Marlins are selling themselves while playing in Dolphin Stadium, a football stadium. In 2012, the Marlins will have their own ballpark, a retractable-roof facility on the Orange Bowl grounds in Miami.

With the new park should come re-newed interest.

“I’ll come back in three years, and that will be great,” Burns said. “That will be wonderful. That will give the blood pressure of this market something, and that will be good.”

— Joe Frisaro

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