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Marlins, Mets Stage Most Important Walk Off in Franchise History
Marlins, Mets Stage Most Important Walk Off in Franchise History
Apr 24, 2024 1:50 AM

In baseball, walk-offs are normally met with celebration. The home team has prevailed in their final opportunity to win, much to the delight of their fans in attendance. The Marlins have had their fair share of walk off wins, including in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series when the club hoisted their first of two championships.

On Thursday night, the Miami Marlins and New York Mets staged a walk off together. Considering the empty stadium, the somber moment was not met with celebration, it was met with resolve.

Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, a Black man, stepped to the plate after the Mets took the field. Once Brinson was announced, both dugouts emptied onto the field and observed a 42 second moment of silence.

From there, the rival teams tipped their caps to one another and walked off the field. Brinson left a “Black Lives Matter” shirt covering home plate.

“We thought collectively as two teams that it would send a powerful message for us to take the field at game time when you can see everything and the cameras are all on us, and have that 42-second moment of silence of those that have lost their lives and those that have been affected by this,” said Brinson.

“The shirt on the plate I think speaks for itself,” Brinson continued. “The words on the shirt speak for themselves. Just having it in the center of everything and just know that both teams are unified.”

The gesture came about after players from both teams discussed it. Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas and Michael Conforto of the Mets communicated between the clubs and helped arrange the details.

“We wanted to do something special,” Rojas said. “We wanted to do something different and, at the same time, send the right message and taking advantage of tomorrow that’s going to be Jackie Robinson Day. The 42 number means a lot for this game and for everybody in the United States.”

For Major League Baseball, the celebration for Jackie Robinson, who broke MLB’s color barrier, comes at a pivotal time for our country. Social injustice, political and social unrest, has polarized the nation, not unlike what was witness during Robinson’s time with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robinson, who wore the No. 42 throughout his career, stood as a key figure during a difficult time. His ability to rise above and break through, ultimately earning a Hall of Fame distinction, inspired hundreds if not thousands of athletes, Black and otherwise.

“That’s the day an icon made it possible for me to sit here at talk to you guys,” Brinson said to media via Zoom. Brinson said Robinson’s sacrifice allowed him to “walk around the same locker room as Corey Dickerson, Jesus Aguilar, Matt Joyce and play the game that we love and have equal opportunities and make our dream come true. Without that man, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

Marlins manager Don Mattingly voiced his support for his Black players and the Black community as well.

“Enough is enough,” Mattingly said. “It’s been powerful. It’s tough to come back and catch the news, and seeing Dominic talking and just seeing the emotion pour out of him. And then watching Doc Rivers the other night talking about different things and just the emotion of that, and just seeing this. It’s just as human beings, it’s hard to watch some of the things we’ve had to watch and just like enough. Just say, ‘Enough.’ We’ve got to move forward. This can’t be a moment. It’s got to be a movement.”

Mattingly referred to Mets outfielder Dominic Smith’s postgame comments that came in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“I think the most difficult part is to see people still don’t care,” Smith said on Wednesday. “For this to just continuously happen, it just shows the hate in people’s heart. That just sucks, you know? Black men in America, it’s not easy.”

The idea that this gesture cannot be a moment, but a movement, was echoed throughout the evening. Mattingly credited the sentiment to Marlins bench coach James Rowson, a Black man.

“It has to continue,” Brinson said. “It can’t just be tonight; it has to be continual.”

Mattingly went on to say: “As human beings, we have to get better. We’re better than this.”

The Marlins manager admitted he’s still learning to listen while he continues to support.

“I’m learning to like really truly listen to those guys and their feelings on different things that they either suppress or don’t feel like they can talk about,” he said, “or don’t want to talk about.”

For the Marlins, Brinson is the only Black player currently on the active roster, with reliever Stephen Tarpley on the 10-day IL and Monte Harrison being in Jupiter. Diversity exists with the organization, as Rowson is a key member of the coaching staff, Michael Hill, the President of Baseball Operations is Black, and the CEO, Derek Jeter, is biracial.

Only eight percent of the Major League Baseball players are Black. But when you look across the landscape of baseball, white and Latino players stand in solidarity with their Black teammates against this widespread, pervasive injustice.

This walk off comes as perhaps the most important in Marlins history. It’s more important than any single win for the franchise ever, and that’s including Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. This nation is frayed, and those tears continue to widen. We need to stitch America back together, and that can only come from help from either side of the divide.

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