Jackie Robinson Classic an inspiring event for Miami high schoolers

April 19th, 2022

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins hosted Northwestern High School and North Miami Beach High School on Monday at loanDepot park for the inaugural Jackie Robinson Classic. Presented by Nike, as part of the celebration for Jackie Robinson Day in honor of the 75th anniversary of the breaking of baseball’s color barrier, the two Miami-area teams competed in a well-played regular-season game, won by Northwestern, 3-0.

The Marlins, in conjunction with the Miami Marlins Foundation, organized several events over four days, culminating in the Jackie Robinson Classic, that not only included a baseball game between the two high school teams but also a surprise gift for the participating student-athletes. They received customized Marlins shirts in their respective school colors, with the No. 42 on the back along with one of Jackie’s nine values (Courage, Determination, Teamwork, Persistence, Integrity, Citizenship, Justice, Commitment and Excellence).

In addition, Nike surprised players from inner-city school Northwestern with special edition Jackie Robinson cleats. The Marlins worked with Nike to also provide new cleats to the North Miami Beach team as well.

Northwestern catcher Jose Mercado, who tripled, singled and drove in two runs, wore his new shoes for the first and only time during the game, as did the rest of the team.

“I don’t think I’m going to wear them anymore because I don’t want them to break,” Mercado said through an interpreter. “They’re retired.”

Mercado said he is inspired by the life story of Robinson.

“For me, it’s just replicating what Jackie did throughout his life,” Mercado said. “For me, it’s one word: Legend.”

Northwestern head coach Darrell Pender said he was beyond thrilled to be chosen to play in the momentous game.

“On a scale of 1-10, it was 100,” Pender said. “I told the boys [after the game], I’ve never seen this much energy from them in two years. They said they were going to bring it today, and they did.”

There are hardly words to describe what Robinson means to subsequent generations of players and coaches who followed in his footsteps.

“He means a lot, the world,” Pender said, “and just giving us a chance to play in this sport. Confidence, he gave us confidence. That means a lot to us.”

That confidence was certainly exhibited by Northwestern pitcher Jah’syi Narcisse, who breezed through a seven-inning three-hit shutout, striking out 12 along the way.

“I was excited when I first heard we were going to play in this stadium,” Narcisse said. “When I walked into the stadium, I thought, I’ve got to go out there and do my thing. I told coach, ‘I want the ball, and I’m going to go the whole game.'"

Included in the Jackie Robinson Celebration, the Marlins hosted approximately 100 young female baseball players from USA Baseball and MLB’s Trailblazer Series on Friday at loanDepot park, connecting the players with Marlins general manager Kim Ng for an intimate conversation.

To help continue the work of Robinson, the Marlins and Miami Marlins Foundation donated $420,000 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) in 2020, which supports the JRF Scholarship program, yielding a $20,000 annual four-year scholarship to a deserving outstanding African-American student from South Florida that demonstrates Robinson’s nine values.

For more information on the Miami Marlins Foundation, visit MarlinsImpact.org.