The Marlins have made it to the World Series.
Or at least one very visible fan has.
In a sea of blue, Laurence Leavy’s orange “Marlins” shirt stands out in the crowd, especially in the pricey seats behind home plate where the TV cameras focus.
Leavy, a 58-year-old Miami lawyer known as “Marlins Man,” said he just loves being part of the game.
But the sight of Leavy in Miami orange rattled the home team enough that he said stadium officials asked him to move — or at least cover up with a Kansas City Royals shirt.
Marlins Man would have none of that Tuesday night. And he said he would be back for other World Series games.
“The owner of the Royals was extremely upset that I was there,” Leavy said Wednesday.
They offered him a private suite if he would move. They tried enticing him with free World Series goodies if he would get rid of the jersey.
No way, Marlins Man said.
Leavy paid $8,000 for that prime seat to see Royals vs. Giants, and he wasn’t about to give it up.
A Royals spokesman said no one asked him to leave his seat or to take off the jersey.
Back in Miami, the Marlins team loved every minute of the exposure.
“I think it's great,” said P.J. Loyello, vice president of communications and broadcasting for the Miami Marlins. “He's one of our loyal season-ticket holders. He's definitely easy to pick out with that jersey. It's fun to pick him out. It's reached a point where we expect to see him at games now. It's fun. It's sports.”
It wasn’t the first time Leavy has stuck out in a crowd.
Marlins Man has been buying the best seats to major sporting events for years. By his count, he’s gone to 27 Super Bowls, more than 200 NBA playoff games, and at least 85 World Series games, and many Triple Crown horse races.
He’s been a Marlins season-ticket holder since the team’s first year in 1993, is a rabid Florida State fan (he was on hand for the FSU-Notre Dame showdown in Tallahassee on Saturday before heading off to Kansas City), owns more than 100 thoroughbreds, and rarely misses a Miami Heat or Dolphins game.
“I never had any kids, nor have any wife,” Leavy said. “You don’t have to pay for a wife and kids, so you have money in the bank.”
Leavy, who attended North Miami Beach High and practices workers’ compensation law, spends plenty of that money on sports travel.
In May, he was in San Diego watching the Marlins when pitching ace Jose Fernandez suffered his season-ending arm injury, followed the team up to Los Angeles to watch them play the Dodgers, and thus began a sports-crazed odyssey, criss-crossing the country to catch games in 16 cities in 18 days.
As a guest of thoroughbred racing magnate Frank Stronach, he sat with actress Bo Derek before the Preakness at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland until it was time for her to bark out orders. “I kept her company until she said ‘Riders up!’” Leavy said.
The next day he flew to Indianapolis to catch Heat-Pacers, followed by Thunder-Spurs in San Antonio the day after that, back to Indianapolis for Heat-Pacers and on and on.
“It was the coolest thing,” he said.
Leavy said he purchases most of his top-dollar tickets on StubHub. Sometimes, ticket brokers call him if they have great seats to major events. He would not reveal an amount on how much he spends annually on plane tickets and seats to sporting events, only saying, “It’s a lot of money.”
Somehow, Leavy said he is still able to run his law practice, which he does electronically during the day when he’s on the road. He has offices in Davie and in Jacksonville.
For years, Leavy attended sporting events largely unnoticed.
“Nobody noticed me when I wore a Cowboys shirt,” he said. “Nobody noticed me when I wore a Heat jersey.”
But when the Marlins changed their uniform colors in 2012, going from a mostly black and teal to orange and black, everything changed. Leavy suddenly became more recognizable.
Two years ago, he was spotted sporting his orange Marlins gear in San Francisco for the World Series. The following day he drove to the Golden Gate Bridge to take some pictures of the landmark when he was spotted by a couple of park rangers, who drove up in a truck to shoo him away from a dangerous cliff.
“One of the guys goes, ‘Aren’t you the guy we’ve been watching on TV behind home plate?’” Leavy recalled. “And the other guy says, ‘He’s the Marlins Man!’”