Every baseball season there are two holidays that I look forward to celebrating with my colleagues and our fans. The first, Opening Day at Marlins Park. You can literally feel the energy surging through you in anticipation for an awesome season to come. The second, Jackie Robinson Day. Every year Jackie Robinson’s legacy is memorialized by Major League Baseball on April 15, which marks the anniversary of when the Hall of Famer broke baseball’s color barrier with his first major league game with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. During this day we are reminded that baseball is more than just a game, it serves as a common bond for all people, regardless of race. One man, through his perseverance, heart and values trail-blazed history for many other minority players to enjoy the game of baseball. Reliving history through video clips, photos and presentations on this MLB holiday makes you reflect on how far we have come and how you can make a difference just by standing up for what is right.
The Marlins saluted Jackie Robinson’s heroism and legacy with Marlins President of Baseball Operations, Michael Hill, Marlins Senior Vice President and Legal Council, Derek Jackson, and Marlins Vice President and Executive Director of the Marlins Foundation, Alfredo Mesa, presenting a check for $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The check was accepted by Christina Gordon, current Jackie Robinson Scholar attending the University of Miami, Carol Guerrero, Jackie Robinson Scholar Alumni, and Curtis Tearte, Jackie Robinson Foundation Committee Member. During a special pre-game presentation the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project boys presented their favorite Jackie Robinson core value: COURAGE, DETERMINATION, TEAMWORK, PERSISTENCE, INTEGRITY, CITIZENSHIP, JUSTICE, COMMITMENT AND EXCELLENCE. These words were values that Jackie Robinson lived by. These values not only made him a champion, but also a hero to millions of people. 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project boys represents these values everyday through their program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. During the inning breaks on Marlins Vision, the Marlins shared interviews with Marlins players and a few RBI kids, highlighting what it means to wear 42 and how Jackie Robinson’s journey still has an impact on their lives today.
Jackie Robinson Day will forever be my second favorite “holiday.” Not just for the pomp and circumstance that goes along with the day, but the look on our fans’ faces as they cheer on our Fish that carry on the legacy of a hero by wearing number 42 with pride.
It’s Saturday night at Marlins Park… if you were in your seats at the start of the 6th inning, you were already getting the sense that you may see something really special happen. Something you don’t talk about or even hint at: a perfect game. Crack! A clean base hit breaks up Henderson’s bid for perfection and many in the stands felt like they were almost witness to something special.
My take on Saturday was viewed through a different lens. You see, before Henderson threw the first pitch of the game, I had already witnessed something special. It was the Marlins Foundation Charity Partner Day and representing Special Olympics of Florida was Sabrina Meador, a young girl with Down syndrome. Sabrina was at Marlins Park for more than just a ceremony though; she was escorted to wait in the Marlins home dugout while her favorite player, Jose Fernandez, was about to surprise her with a bouquet of flowers. Jose turns the corner at the top steps from the clubhouse and Sabrina shouts, “JOSE!!!” darting over and embracing him with a great big hug, both smiling from ear to ear.
This was not Sabrina’s first interaction with Jose… on National Down Syndrome Awareness Day, to create awareness and support, we are all asked to wear “funky socks” and show them off. The Marlins had a Spring Training game that day and the guys were ALL IN and excited to sport their polka dot Marlins socks during the game. Jose would go one step further and sent a young girl named Sabrina an autographed cap. She took to social media and her response was priceless (see below).
We’re back in the dugout of Marlins Park and Jose is showing Sabrina around when he informed her that she will be throwing out the first pitch and that he’s going to be the one to catch it. She is beyond excited and nervous at the same time, so Jose suggests that they warm up with a game of catch.
The moment had finally come and I don’t even remember if she threw a strike or not, all I can remember is the look on her face as Jose walked out to the mound to congratulate her in front of the Saturday night crowd at Marlins Park… So while Henderson threw a two-hit shutout gem on his birthday (the game was the day after his birthday), all I could talk about for the rest of the night and the next day at Easter dinner was little Sabrina and the night that she will never forget.
Something really special happened at Marlins Park last Saturday.
Thursday, April 17th, 2014, the Marlins Ayudan program sent our “Blue Shirts” into the community. We visited three senior living centers, one of which housed a wonderful lady who just celebrated her 101st birthday! The day was exceptional and as I soaked it all in, I reflected on five things that money could never buy.
- Smile. A simple smile, especially to a complete stranger can brighten someone’s whole day. Some of us walk around with the weight of the world on our shoulders and it takes a toll on our mind, body, and soul. You never know what someone is going through, so lighten the mood and smile, it’s contagious! J
- Gratitude. Often we say “thank you” as a notion of respect, or even custom, without much regard. Take the time to give thanks no matter how big or small the blessing. And remember actions speak louder than words, so don’t be afraid to show it.
- Selflessness. Each day should be a new experience and a new hour of learning. It is easy to get so caught up in our daily tasks that we develop tunnel-vision from the outside world. Take a second and spread your wealth, whether it be wisdom or material, reach out and share yourself with another.
- Hope. A little bit of hope can go a long way. Through acts of selflessness we can provide opportunities for others to gain a sense of hope. This nation was built on hope and that same hope is in the foundation of a strong community. So dream big, and if you have nothing left, keep hope alive.
- Community. This is where people gain their identity, a sense of family and the place they call home. There have never been truer words than “you get what you put in”. It is important to build one another, grow with them, teach them, and learn from them. Life Lesson #1: The Best Things in Life are Free!
Recently, a member from our Marlins front office participated in a very unique fundraising opportunity. Beth McConville, Executive Assistant to CEO, President & Vice Chairman, was approached by a friend about joining an effort to raise money for Gilda’s Club South Florida – a local chapter of Gilda’s Club that provides support to those touched by cancer.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented by Gilda’s Club was executed by an organization called “Over the Edge.” “Over the Edge is a special events company that provides signature events for non-profit organizations around the world. Participants are invited to raise funds in exchange for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of going over the edge of a local building.”
Here’s an excerpt from Beth’s experience.
Last Saturday, I participated in an amazing event called “Over the Edge” for Gilda’s Club. We raised over $115,000 for this very worthy cause. I have several friends battling cancer right now, so this event really inspired me! I am so looking forward to participating again next year and raising even more money!!
Looking for a fun and rewarding way to spend your Saturday morning this weekend? Why not join Marlins Ayudan and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade for Global Youth Service Day? Here are 6 serious reasons why you should come to Amelia Earhart Park this weekend!
1. You’ll officially become a “Blue Shirt”…and you’ll receive a blue shirt too.
You’ve seen the Marlins front office all over the community sporting our blue jerseys, now you can join the club too and get this awesome free t-shirt.
2. 15 minutes of fame.
Join the big leaguers on Marlins Park Field. All volunteers from the day will be recognized for their efforts in a special pre-game on-field ceremony at Marlins Park!
3. It’s fun!
These guys found time to stop for a laugh and smile in between all the hard work during Global Youth Service Day 2013.
You never know who’s watching and where you’ll run into them later in life. I’ll tell you two people who will definitely be on scene on Saturday, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 13, Esteban Bovo, Jr. and Miami-Dade Parks Director, Jack Kardys.
Listed as number 5, this reason is significant because every participant will receive 5 hours of community service! Look out graduation, here we come!
This year’s activities which will impact one of your local parks include mulching, painting, planting and clean-up.
There’s still time to sign up for Global Youth Service Day. If you’d like to join us from 8am-1pm at Amelia Earhart Park this Saturday, e-mail your name, age, and t-shirt size to email@example.com.