Miami Gardens kids will have a chance to swing for the fences thanks to a donation from the Miami Marlins Foundation presented by County Commissioner Barbara Jordan Thursday afternoon at Carol City Park.
The city received a $20,000 gift from the Marlins Foundation and Major League Baseball, which will be split evenly between the city’s parks department and the Up2Us youth development program. The funding will go toward the Junior Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
Alfredo Mesa, executive director of the Marlins Foundation, said his group wanted to keep its commitment to bringing baseball to the community despite the team moving from Sun Life Stadium to Marlins Park in Little Havana.
“It’s our way of saying not that we’re back, but that we never left and we want to continue to be here,” Mesa said.
On hand were players from the Miami Gardens Aces, the city’s youth baseball team and players from Miami Norland High’s baseball team. Also in attendance were Hall of Fame player Andre Dawson, a Miami native, and newly acquired Marlins players Miguel Rojas and Dee Gordon.
Starex Smith, the city’s assistant parks director, said the donation will assist the city’s coaches and he was thankful for the presence of the current and former players.
“That helps our kids to feel more empowered when they see professional athletes and the legacy of organizations like the Marlins,” Smith said.
In December, Miami Gardens received a $50,000 donation from the Miami Dolphins Foundation to fund renovations of Lester Brown Park and the Brentwood Pool. The work at those parks includes building a new outdoor exercise area, new fencing around the park, expanding the walking trail and re-sodding the field. New landscaping and irrigation will also be installed along with video surveillance.
Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert thanked Jordan for her work in helping the city continue to find partnerships as it seeks to build parks programs. He said even if the young players don’t make it to a Major League Baseball team they can still find benefits in the RBI program.
“It still helps build camaraderie and it’s still a great way to stay active,” Gilbert said. “It’s something we always want to provide to our residents.”