Marlins, Cubs set to honor #MSDStrong
Teams to wear patches, hold ceremony during season-opening series in tribute to victims of Parkland, Fla., school shooting
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- #MSDStrong will have a prominent presence during the Marlins and Cubs' four-game series beginning on Thursday at Marlins Park.
Paying tribute in the aftermath of the tragic shootings that claimed 17 lives on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the Marlins and Cubs will wear patches on their uniforms.
According to the Marlins, each team will wear an MSD patch featuring 17 stars on it, recognizing the memories of the 17 lives lost. There also will be an MSD Strong sign on the left-field wall during the four-game series.
"We're all pulling for those kids, and we're all behind them," Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, a native of Coral Springs, Fla., said. "Hopefully, they got that message."
Coral Springs is just a few miles away from Parkland.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is a Parkland native and a Stoneman Douglas alumnus. In recent weeks, Rizzo's foundation reached out to the Marlins about paying tribute to the school.
On Friday, before the second game of the series, four Parkland families, who were invited by the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, will take part in the first-pitch ceremonies. Rizzo, along with members of the Marlins, will also participate and present a check to the National Compassion Fund-Parkland, from monies raised through an auction.
The National Compassion Fund also has handled money raised for victims of shootings at a nightclub in Orlando and the concert in Las Vegas.
The Marlins have planned additional events to honor MSD Strong in the upcoming weeks.
On April 4, the Stoneman Douglas baseball team will play Coral Springs High School at 6:30 p.m. ET at Marlins Park.
Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter personally called the Stoneman Douglas school to invite the team to play at Marlins Park.
April 15 will be Stoneman Douglas Day at Marlins Park. The Marlins face the Pirates on that Sunday, and complimentary tickets will be available for anyone with a Stoneman Douglas school identification, which includes students and staff.
Since the shootings, Brinson has spoken several times to the Stoneman Douglas baseball team, and he's regularly visited one student who remains in an area hospital while recovering from injuries suffered the day of the shooting.
"It's still tough for those kids to go to school and look at that building and know what happened," Brinson said.
Rizzo spent part of Saturday watching the news reports from the March for Our Lives rally in Washington.
"I was a wreck watching these kids," Rizzo said. "There are 11-year-old [kids speaking]. Two different 11-year-olds speaking at these rallies. What is going on? As inspiring as it is, to sit there and think about what I was doing at 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. These kids are coming together and trying to change a lot of lives and change the nation and it's so amazing to see and at the same time, it's so sad because at 11, 12, 13, 14, high school, you're supposed to be getting in trouble, messing around, learning about life. It's really inspiring to see [what they're doing]."
Rizzo said he was thinking about his nephew and niece at the time.
"It's scary times," he said. "I think a lot of the nation can agree on some common sense things to hopefully make things safer. Hopefully today is a movement in that direction."
He expects a few tears on Friday when he sees the Parkland families.
"It'll be emotional," Rizzo said. "The baseball team will come out and some of the victims' families will come out. Time heals all but it's just so close to home. The farther away you get from it, the weirder it feels. Watching today was a weird feeling."