The Miami Marlins ended a game against the New York Mets by posting a photo of Muhammad Ali on their scoreboard at Marlins Park, along with the dates: 1942-2016.
The Marlins appeared to be jumping the gun, as Ali had been admitted into intensive care due to respiratory failure, but at the time no formal announcement had been made about the passing of the boxing great.
However, according to an article in the Miami Herald, Marlins president David Samson said that the team’s announcement of Ali’s death was not an error.
“We were informed by someone close to the family that he had passed away. We wanted to get a tribute out as soon as we possibly could.”
Ali had a history with the Marlins, as he threw the first official pitch in the opening ceremony of Marlin Park in 2012.
Samson said the boxer was an important part of the organization.
“He opened our new ballpark. Being that he had thrown out the first pitch of this ballpark, and has a close relationship [with the Marlins], we wanted to honor him as quickly as possible. His legacy will live forever.”
An Ali family spokesman, Bob Gunnell, told USA Today on Friday that Ali is “in fair condition at an undisclosed hospital in the Phoenix area.”
Matt Roebuck, Marlins senior director of communications, apologized for the premature announcement of Ali’s death.
“We wanted to honor (Ali’s) legacy and put a message on the scoreboard at the conclusion of the game, and we were unaware at the time that the announcement of (Ali’s) passing had not been made public. I know that our team president is certain of his passing.
“Ali is a close friend of several members of our organization so there is a connection there.”
According to the website Syracuse, Muhammad Ali had taken seriously ill, and his family was gathering by his bedside. The 74-year-old boxing legend’s illness was complicated by the Parkinson’s disease he was diagnosed with in 1984, family members told the Associated Press.
His last formal public appearance was in Phoenix at the annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner, which raises funds for treatment of Parkinson’s.
Ali has suffered from Parkinson’s for 30 years, likely brought about, doctors said, by taking thousands of punches during his illustrious career. His disease did not stop him from making appearances, although he has not spoken in public in years.
He remains an iconic figure, which some refer to as GOAT, or the Greatest Of All Time. He was known for his entertaining spark of character as well as his athletic talent.
Fans were outraged by the premature nature of the Marlins announcement.
The Palm Beach Post wrote the following.
“It’s not the first time the Marlins have made fans cringe in regard to the greatest of all time. In 2012, the team brought out Ali to throw the first pitch at the first game when Marlins Park opened, which drew significant criticism in large part because Ali’s right arm was shaking violently as team owner Jeffrey Loria grabbed his hand.”
Photos of the scoreboard, which pictured Ali in the ring, began popping up all over social media, along with captions like, “Marlins killed Muhammad Ali.”
“I’m still in awe that the Marlins prematurely killed Ali.” – Arielle Castillo @ariellec
“Wait, the Marlins publicly announced Muhammad Ali was dead and he isn’t? Ohhhhhhhhhh boy.” – Alex Herron @Captain_Cane
“This is the most Miami Marlins thing ever. Announcing a celebrity’s death before it happens is so inept Marlins.” – Dan DeMeo @DanDeMeo53
“There are no reports of Ali’s death, yet the Marlins announced he passed away at the game tonight. Wow, just wow. Shame on them.” – Steve Zemach @SteveZemach
The Marlins posted the Muhammad Ali death announcement on their scoreboard at 10:05 p.m EDT. Friday, the Miami Herald said.
Media reports confirmed the news that Ali had died on Friday, after 9 p.m. local time in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to Reuters.
[Photo of Ali with Joe Frazier, Uncredited/AP]