Miami Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson still has trouble putting Feb. 14, 2018, into words.
The Coral Springs native was eating lunch on the day Marlins pitchers and catchers reported to Jupiter for Spring Training and turned on the TV.
He saw the phrase “school shooting” come up on the screen. Then he remembered seeing “Douglas.” Finally, reality sank in when he saw the words “Stoneman Douglas.”
“My mouth dropped to the floor,” Brinson said Wednesday, the day before the one-year anniversary of the shooting at the Parkland high school that left 17 people dead, including 14 students.
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The shooting hit home for Brinson. He went to high school five miles away at Coral Springs High, one of Douglas’ rivals. His mom lives 10 minutes from the school. His hitting coach lives “right down the street,” Brinson said.
“It was just a shock,” Brinson said. “That’s the last school you would expect for something like that to happen at. It’s very sad that they happened.”
The Marlins, like the other South Florida professional sports teams, did their part to help the Douglas community heal. They invited the Douglas baseball and softball teams to Jupiter for their preseason opener, during which the Marlins wore Douglas caps and “MSD Strong” warmup shirts. They also posted a sign on the left-field wall at Marlins Park displaying a maroon-colored ribbon (the same as one of Douglas’ school colors) with the letters “MSD” across the middle and 17 stars in honor of the lives lost in the shooting. Douglas also played a district game against Coral Springs inside Marlins Park while the Marlins were on a road trip.
Before heading to Jupiter this week for the start of Marlins’ 2019 spring training camp, Brinson drove by the park near the high school where memorials were set up.
“There’s still flowers,” Brinson said. “Nobody really forgot about what happened that day. Obviously, it’s very near and dear to my heart. It was my rival high school. A lot of my friends and family’s friends went to that high school. A lot of their kids go to that school. It’s still a heavy heart and very unfortunate what happened. Definitely everybody remembers what happened.”