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Former Marlins dedicate revamped teen center

World Series champions Johnson, Pierre on hand for All-Star Legacy initiative
MLB.com @Marathoner

NORTH LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Charles Johnson and Juan Pierre had to get used to the modern jerseys with the word "Miami" on them, but they slipped the home Marlins attire on with world champions' pride and spent part of Thursday afternoon talking to kids about their own successes and the limitless possibilities that anyone can have with a little help.

Johnson and Pierre, key members of the "Florida" Marlins' 1997 and 2003 World Series championship teams, respectively, participated in the fun as Major League Baseball and the Marlins continued their full slate of All-Star Week community activities with the dedication of refurbishments made to the Leo Goodwin Foundation Teen Center of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.

NORTH LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Charles Johnson and Juan Pierre had to get used to the modern jerseys with the word "Miami" on them, but they slipped the home Marlins attire on with world champions' pride and spent part of Thursday afternoon talking to kids about their own successes and the limitless possibilities that anyone can have with a little help.

Johnson and Pierre, key members of the "Florida" Marlins' 1997 and 2003 World Series championship teams, respectively, participated in the fun as Major League Baseball and the Marlins continued their full slate of All-Star Week community activities with the dedication of refurbishments made to the Leo Goodwin Foundation Teen Center of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.

This project, which officially launches the 20th Anniversary of MLB's All-Star Legacy initiative, includes improvements to the Center's computer lab, specifically new computer desks, tables, lab chairs, headphones, graphics and new gaming design software.

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Additional upgrades to the Center include those made to the "college corner" and recording studio as well as the game room and lounge areas, which are receiving a new television and improved sound system, respectively. The lounge area also will receive a throw rug, lounge-style tables and chairs, wall shelving, wall décor and new curtains. Generally, the Center will receive new flooring, updated painting, ceiling tiles and new baseboards.

"It really gives these young kids a refuge, somewhere they can go and relax and have fun with their friends," Johnson said, wearing his 1997 ring, a week after speaking to the U.S. Conference of Mayors to promote the Play Ball initiative. "And not only a refuge, but this Boys & Girls Club is going to give them a vehicle to help them get to college, and that to me is what it's all about, getting them educated."

"It's kind of like in baseball, speaking of that team when we won it," Pierre added. "That was the most selfless team I've been a part of, where everyone is pushing everybody else. This can be the same type of environment, where kids get here, you make friends, and you start pushing guys to do better in school or in the community, so it has a team aspect."

Dignitaries also included Marlins' senior vice president of communications and broadcasting P.J. Loyello, MLB vice president of community affairs Tom Brasuell, national vice president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Frank Sanchez, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County Brian Quail, Marlins Vision host and FOX Sports Florida reporter Kelly Saco -- who emceed the event -- and Billy The Marlin.

"Being part of a World Series is hands-down one of the most incredible things I've ever been a part of," said Johnson, the two-time All-Star catcher. "Not only winning it, but winning it in your hometown. To me, that's crazy. Being able to come to the University of Miami and play under a great coach like Ron Frasier, and then being drafted by the Marlins. And born and raised an hour and a half away in Fort Pierce, and winning a World Series down here, I mean for me it's really a dream come true. It's something I never envisioned, but I'm living the dream and enjoying every minute of it."

On Sunday, Johnson will manage the U.S. team in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, and Edgar Renteria will manage the World Team. They each came through in the clutch at the end of that classic 1997 World Series Game 7. Many former Marlins from that team will be coaching in Sunday's game, and Johnson said he can't wait for the opportunity.

"It's going to be fun for me, with Jerry Manuel next to me, really helping me as far as putting together the lineups and everything else," Johnson said. "I've got a good friend of mine, Cliff Floyd, being the hitting guy. Then when I look into the other dugout, I'll see Edgar Renteria and Luis Castillo, my buddies with the Marlins. So it's going to be wonderful time to compete in the Futures Game, and not only compete, but against some of your fellow teammates."

MLB and the Miami Marlins have donated about $5 million through MLB Charities and the Marlins Foundation toward several All-Star Legacy and Legacy Plus improvement projects as well as to support national charitable initiatives. A portion of the funds will be raised from Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday. Since 1997, MLB and All-Star host clubs have donated more than $80 million in All-Star charitable contributions.

"The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people, especially those of us that need it most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens," said Brasuell, a Boys & Girls Clubs of America alum. "And I can tell you the dedication of the staff here, the kids, they are working hard and they are fulfilling that mission every single day. We are proud to be a part of that, to help them continue that mission and to help them fulfill it."

On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub.

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