There's something fishy about David Polakoff's collection.
The 17-year-old, Coral Springs, Florida native is the proud owner of
one of the world's largest collections of Florida Marlins memorabilia.
"I have everything from pencils to pins to pennants, from balls to bobbleheads
to bats, from newspapers and signatures to figures," says the hardcore Fish fan.
With a mission to obtain "every last bit of Marlins merchandise," the
young hobbyist started collecting when he was just nine years old.
"My entire bedroom is covered top to bottom in Marlins memorabilia, but
that's only the tip of the iceberg," he admits. "I have 12 boxes of other things that I have no room for in my closet."
Despite these space issues, the strong-willed teen has no plans of letting
up. Polakoff regularly scours eBay and flea markets to add to his collection, and word of his fanaticism has resulted
in some unique items finding their way into his hands. His most interesting item is a set of fingerprints from members
of the 1997 World Series-winning squad.
"Back in 1997, the Marlins had a partnership with Broward County (Florida)
schools....There were several activities, but the two I remember are analyzing dirt from Game Seven of the World Series and
comparing differences in fingerprints," he explains. "My father worked at the elementary school I went to, and a few years
back, my ex-science teacher told my dad she had found these items and -- knowing how big of a Marlins fan I am --
gave them to him."
On top of his collection, the determined Floridian has developed his
own Marlins Web site (www.marlinsrule.net) that boasts information on the team, an interactive message board, and the
chance for fans to send an electronic Marlins post card.
"In December 2000, I decided to make a Marlins Web site. It was pretty
primitive; I barely knew what I was doing," he says. "I decided that I would call it the Florida Marlins 2001 Homepage. After
a few months, and realizing the name was a mouthful, I shortened the name to Marlins2k1. That lasted a shorter time, because
I eventually changed the layout of the page and with it came a brand new site name: marlinsrule.com. After a while though,
I decided I liked marlinsrule.net better, and to this day that's the name of the site."
With his passion for the Marlins, it's not surprising that Polakoff has
met many of the team's players over the years, including Jeff Conine, Mark Kotsay, and Antonio Alfonseca. But it was
a lesser-known player that made a lasting impression on him.
"Brian Edmondson (former Marlins' reliever) seems like an obscure guy,
but he's the nicest guy I ever met," he says. "During the 1998 and 1999 seasons, I spoke with him before just about
every game I went to."
His current favorite player is Miguel Cabrera, although, with the transient
nature of baseball, Polakoff admits he tries not to get too attached to any one Marlin anymore.
"Any time I get attached to a player, they end up gone in a year or two,"
The young fanatic prefers, instead, to bask in the glory of a team that
is coming off its second World Championship in seven seasons.
"This past 2003 championship, I'm sure I'll always remember vividly,"
he says. "Plus the 2003 team was never expected to go as far. In 1997, it was expected (for them to win)."