Miami Marlin Manatees
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Miami Marlin ‘Manatees’

Meet the Manatees, the Florida Marlins’ newest cheering squad, practicing for their debut at Monday’s season opener. Jeff Stern, Nelson Clark, Mark Robinson and Joseph Love are part of the 16-man troupe -- Major League Baseball’s first plus-size male squad. The Marlins hope the Manatees will connect with the fans who usually watch baseball at home on the couch, and draw those fans into the stadium. (David Adame / For the Los Angeles Times)
Abraham J. Thomas, the oldest Manatee at 61, wears a back brace during practice. He says he’s reluctant to do deep knee bends, saying he might not get up again. (David Adame / For the Los Angeles Times)
The Manatees and choreographer Vanessa Martinez-Huff huddle up at the end of practice. The 16 members tip the scales at 225 to 435 pounds. (David Adame / For the Los Angeles Times)
Joseph Love, left, and Nelson Clark work with Martinez-Huff during practice. “There are more people who look like them than have those perfect bodies,” says a charter member of the Marlins Fan Club. (David Adame / For the Los Angeles Times)
The Manatees will be dancing before an expected 45,000 fans at the Florida Marlins’ home opener Monday at Dolphin Stadium. During practice, Martinez-Huff admonishes the team: “I see people leaving to get hot dogs! You want to keep them in the stands! Do you want to lose out to a hot dog?” (David Adame / For the Los Angeles Times)
The team’s namesake, of course, is the endangered marine mammal that resembles a pale walrus without tusks. “I’m doing this for the guys like me,” one member says, “the regular guys who haven’t been that active lately.” (Mike Aguilera / SeaWorld)