MIAMI – At his introductory news conference Friday, new Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond engaged in the traditional ritual of donning the team jersey for photos, then sat down at a microphone and announced he would keep his shirt on while taking questions.
His pants, too.
As a backup catcher for the 2003 Marlins, Redmond took batting practice naked in an indoor cage to help the team shake a slump. The ploy worked, and the Marlins went on to win the World Series.
Now he's back in Miami and eager to be remembered for more than "the nudity incident," as Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest called it.
"That was a thing I did to get a laugh, and it still gets laughs," Redmond said with a laugh. "But if you ask any guy on that team about that, they'd all say the same thing — it did its job. It kept us loose, and as crazy as it is, it worked. At the time, we needed it."
Redmond, who spent the past two years managing Class A teams in the Toronto Blue Jays' system, signed a three-year contract. He replaces Ozzie Guillen, fired last week following one dismal season in Miami.
After Guillen flopped as a big-name, headline-making manager, the Marlins went the other direction with his replacement. Redmond, who spent 13 years in the majors as a backup catcher, wryly said he has only two followers on Twitter — in part because he has never tweeted.
He becomes the Marlins' fifth manager since mid-2010, and Beinfest said they've finally found a keeper.
"This man is universally respected and liked throughout baseball," Beinfest said. "This is a major win for us in a lot of ways. Mike is going to have so much support from people he has touched in the game that it is going to be tough for him not to succeed."
Redmond, 41, recalled that even in his first minor-league season in 1993, his baseball card said he would "be a coach when his playing days are over."
"I sat on the bench a lot," Redmond said. "It's well documented. And I watched. I learned. I asked questions. I pumped my teammates up. I did the things I knew would help a team win. And now as a manager, I know what to do. I know what buttons to push, and I can't wait to get going. I wish spring training started tomorrow."
First he must complete a coaching staff. Joe Espada was retained as third base coach, Reid Cornelius was retained as bullpen coach and Perry Hill was hired as first base-infield coach. Batting coach Eduardo Perez and pitching coach Randy St. Claire will not return.
Redmond signed his first professional contract with the Marlins in 1992, the year before their first game, and he played with them for seven seasons.
He was the backup catcher to Ivan Rodriguez on the 2003 team, and the story of Redmond taking batting practice naked has become the stuff of franchise legend.
"It was just one of those days, man," Redmond said. "I just got up and grabbed my bat, and off I went."
When the Marlins began winning, he took BP nude for about a week straight to help them rebound from a poor start to the season. He went without clothes again to help them end a slump in August.
Beinfest, who was then with the Marlins, said the high jinks were revealing regarding Redmond in more ways than one.
"You could do that but have no impact. He had a way where the timing was correct," Beinfest said. "It's very hard to lead from the bench. This guy was a leader. To be able to lead a championship-caliber team from the bench and have the respect of the guys playing every day speaks a lot to what he's about."
Redmond said that while his sense of humor is a plus as a manager, he takes winning and losing very seriously.
"As a player I was a guy who kept guys loose. As a manager I'm still that guy," he said. "At the same time I'm a leader and a competitor, and I have a lot of fire. Ask any guy I played against."
Redmond wore his gaudy 2003 World Series ring to the news conference as a reminder of the franchise's past glory. The Marlins were a bust in their new ballpark this year, finishing last in the NL East at 69-93, their worst record since 1999.
"To the fans: Things are going to get better," Redmond said. "I'm going to get it done."