The $155,000 in donations the Marlins presented to three charities at Marlins Park last weekend well before manager Ozzie Guillen’s infamous “I love Castro” remark upset many of their new neighbors.
With their move to Miami, the Marlins have been reaching out to various organizations in Miami-Dade County through their Marlins Foundation. Contributions presented during the team’s first homestand to Shake-A-Leg Miami, Miracle League of Miami Dade and the Jackie Robinson Foundation were part of an ongoing outreach program that also operated when the team played at Sun Life Stadium as the Florida Marlins.
Guillen’s comments couldn’t have been more ill-advised for a franchise trying to establish itself in an area known as Little Havana. But some groups in the Cuban community will benefit.
The salary Guillen was docked during a five-game suspension will be donated to Cuban human rights groups, team President David Samson said last week. The recipients will be announced soon, Marlins spokesperson Carolina Perrina de Diego said.
Perhaps as soon as Tuesday when Guillen resumes his duties as manager as the Marlins begin a series against the Cubs.
“When you’re talking about an issue like this, whether the ballpark is in Little Havana or not, we want to be good neighbors and a good member of this community. We would have felt the same way if we were still playing at Pro Player,” Samson said when Guillen’s suspension was announced.
“This is not about where the ballpark is. It’s not about the fact we’re now called the Miami Marlins. We’ve been in this community for 20 years, and feel as strongly 10 years ago when we started as we do today that these things just aren’t tolerated and we swiftly moved under Jeffrey [Loria]’s leadership. His extreme disappointment is not about how this impacts the team on the field. His extreme disappointment is a total understanding of this community and the impact those comments, however interpreted, have on the community.”
The Marlins Foundation’s stated objective is “improving the lives of our youth through education, the arts and baseball, with a special focus on children with special needs.”
The Foundation donated $50,000 dollars to Shake-A-Leg Miami on Friday, then $100,000 to the Miracle League of Miami Dade on Saturday.
The Marlins Foundation is working with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade to build the Miracle League of Miami Dade Field “where children can play baseball and know that it was created with their needs in mind,” the Marlins said in a statement. The donation comes as a result of a Marlins Golf Classic fundraiser, co-hosted by first baseman Gaby Sanchez and catcher John Buck.
Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day throughout the major leagues. The Marlins donate $4,200 dollars to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
“As Marlins Park rose from the ground, so too, has the Marlins commitment to our community”, said Alfredo Mesa, Executive Director of Marlins Foundation. “We are proud to call Shake-A-Leg Miami and the Miracle League of Miami Dade our charity partners. Both of these organizations provide our most deserving youth with unique experiences and are aligned with our mission- to improve the lives of our youth through education, the arts and baseball, with a special focus on children with special needs.”
Photo: The Miracle League of Miami Dade received a donation of $100,000 for a baseball field for children with special needs in Miami. (Photo courtesy Miami Marlins)