Marlins host third annual Jackie Robinson Classic presented by Nike

April 15th, 2024

As part of the organization’s efforts to celebrate and honor Jackie Robinson’s legacy, the Miami Marlins and Miami Marlins Foundation hosted the third annual Jackie Robinson Classic presented by Nike on April 9.

Featuring two predominantly black South Florida high schools, Booker T. Washington and Boyd Anderson, the game marked the third consecutive year that the Marlins and loanDepot park have hosted this event. While the scoreboard showed Booker T. Washington was victorious by a score of 5–3, both teams left the field with memories that will last a lifetime.

Leading up to the game, the schools were surprised with customized cleats from Nike in honor of the occasion. For Boyd Anderson, those were hand-delivered by Marlins players Josh Bell and Tim Anderson.

“I’m always happy to help out, especially when you hear Jackie Robinson’s name,” said Bell. “It was cool to see the looks on the kids’ faces. It’s grounding. Obviously, Big League baseball is one of the most important things in our life, but when we can give back to the community, it allows us to reset and remember how far we’ve come.”

He added, “I know Tim and I were both like, ‘Man, we’d wear these cleats tonight. Do you guys have any extra size 13s lying around?’”

The moment was very special for the Boyd Anderson players in more ways than one.

“It was so incredible to see and meet those players,” said Manuel, Boyd Anderson sophomore. “We also felt we needed new cleats, and it was even better that it was them who gave them to us.”

While the surprise delivery occurred a week before the game, the buzz never faded.

“My players are still talking about it right now,” said Al Miller, Boyd Anderson head coach. “They got a chance to meet Major League players, and that experience was so great for them. They just appreciate it so much and are still talking about it.”

The experience of meeting Big Leaguers did not end with the cleats. Prior to Booker T. Washington and Boyd Anderson taking the field for their matchup, they met with and heard from Marlins alumni and former MLB greats Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson.

Johnson and Wilson shared words of wisdom with the group, as their messages stretched beyond just the game of baseball.

“There’s a whole lot more to life than just baseball, and I think we need to remember that,” said Wilson. “One of the lessons you learn as a baseball player is that you will be an ex-baseball player longer than you’ll ever be a baseball player.”

The pre-game speech resonated with coaches from both sides and aligned with what they often try to tell their players.

“This is an opportunity for them to see what it’s like for those who have been successful in life,” said Barnard Lovie, Booker T. Washington head coach. “It also shows them that they have a chance to succeed in life.”

Feeling inspired and determined to make the most of the opportunity, the teams played a highly competitive and hard-fought game. Booker T. Washington was led by an impressive showing from sophomore pitcher Jarvin Lopez, who gave up only three hits in 6.2 innings pitched.

As the game concluded, there was nothing but smiles on both sides. The teams had left it all on the field and were taking in the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“It was special because I’ve been a baseball fan since I was a kid,” said Cristian, Booker T. Washington senior. “This memory will stay with me forever. Our school isn’t big on baseball, and the fact that we’ve won a couple games and won here at a Major League stadium, it’s amazing.”

Miller agreed with this sentiment, adding, “I think this memory will last forever for the kids. Not many high school kids get the chance to play in a Major League park and play for what they’re playing for with the Jackie Robinson Classic.”