CJ ready for new ballpark
One of the all-time great Marlins looks forward to the day the franchise celebrates the opening of its new ballpark.
Charles Johnson, a former All-Star and Gold Glove-winning catcher, says the retractable-roof stadium set to open in 2012 will offer comfort for the players as well as the fans.
During his playing career, which spanned from 1994-2005, Johnson made 305 of his 1,108 MLB starts at Sun Life Stadium. Dealing with the heat and humidity, plus frequent rain delays, was taxing on his body.
“I would say [Sun Life Stadium] is one of the toughest parks to play in because of the weather,” Johnson said. “You’re dealing with the heat from April until the end of the season. It’s hot pretty much all year long. Some teams play in the cold weather, and that keeps you refreshed more. The colder weather helps you as far as not draining at the end of the season.”
Playing in scorching conditions caused Johnson’s weight to fluxuate over the course of a season.
“I would lose 10 to 15 pounds during the season, and then I’d gain it back,” he said. “I would literally change and use two jerseys a game in the summer time because it was so hot.”
Johnson, who still lives in South Florida, remains active in the community. Last weekend, he participated in the Joe DiMaggio Legends Game at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
A former University of Miami standout, Johnson was drafted in the first round by the Marlins in 1992, and he made his MLB debut in 2004. He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 1997, Florida’s first World Series championship team.
He had two stints with the Marlins, from 1994-98 and 2001-02. He also played for the Dodgers, Orioles, Rockies and Rays.
As a South Florida resident, he plans on attending games at the Marlins’ new stadium.
“I think it’s going to help the franchise a great deal, having a new ballpark,” Johnson said. “That’s one thing they have talked about since the existence of the Marlins, to have a new stadium, with a roof.
“Now, I think the fans have no complaints. Now we have to come out and support the ballclub, because the whole thing was about the rain in the afternoons, and the heat, and everything else. Now, on a nice day, you can open the roof up. When it’s raining, you can close it back up. I think it’s a great thing for the community.”
– Joe Frisaro