Youth focus of Jackie Robinson Day plans

April 12th, 2021

This Thursday is Jackie Robinson Day across the Majors, and on Monday, the Marlins announced that they will be celebrating his legacy not only by having their players wear No. 42 in their games on Thursday and Friday, but also by holding several special events that will impact South Florida youth.

The festivities begin with two virtual events for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and Urgent, Inc. Marlins prospects Nasim Nunez, Thomas Jones, Brady Puckett, Lorenzo Hampton, Bryson Brigman and Sean Reynolds will speak with the local youth and educate them about who Robinson was and his impact on not only baseball but civil rights.

“It feels good,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly about the initiatives. “It goes back to the promises that I think our ownership Mr. [Bruce] Sherman and Derek [Jeter], the whole group talked about when they first took over. What they wanted to do on the playing side but also what they wanted to do in the community. They wanted to make sure that the Marlins were here to help this community.”

On April 15, 1947, America’s pastime changed forever when Robinson broke the color barrier and joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. As has been the case since ‘97, every player in the league will wear No. 42 on April 15 to show support for Robinson’s legacy and his fight for social justice and racial equality. Because the Marlins will play on the road on Thursday, they will also wear No. 42 on Friday when they open their series against the Giants at loanDepot park.

“There’s a lot of issues going on right now,” said outfielder Adam Duvall. “Just to be able to wear that and to honor him and the change that he made for the game, that’s special. All the kids around the country, one day they hope to play in the big leagues. And that’s one of the special events that we get to do, and it's special for us.”

Later this month, in partnership with Nike, the Marlins will also launch the inaugural season of Jr. RBI at Gwen Cherry Park in Liberty City, Fla. Opening day will take place the week of April 26.

Over the years, the Marlins have made a point to provide a safe and inclusive environment for their staff, while also integrating the beliefs and values of Robinson into their organization. In August 2020, the organization announced a $420,000 donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The donation will be used as part of the JRF Scholarship Fund, which will award a $20,000, four-year scholarship to an outstanding African American student from the South Florida region annually.

“You see a lot of that [inclusivity],” said Mattingly. “You’ve seen it during the winter. You’ve seen it with the vaccination site, you’ve seen it with the testing site. [I] just think that you see what [the ownership] promised and talked about, and they continue to invest in that. I think it has to be that way. We’re in a location that we want our fans to feel like we’re their team, so I think we’ve done a really good job of it, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”