Spring training got off to a solemn start as MLB teams wore hats to honor Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were fatally shot nine days ago.
Stoneman Douglas baseball coach Todd Fitz-Gerald and his two sons were guests of the Houston Astros for their spring opener against the Washington Nationals. Members of the school’s baseball and softball teams were guests of the Miami Marlins and mingled on the field with players, coaches and CEO Derek Jeter.
Teams had the option of wearing the caps, which are black with “SD” in block letters, during the games or only during warm-ups. The Astros, Nationals, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees were among the teams to wear the hats Friday.
“Anytime people are hurting, and we know the community is hurting right now, baseball can sometimes play a part with the healing process,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And so to honor them and try and have a little bit of thoughts and prayers and our thoughts are with people who are hurting, it’s something small that it was cool to be a part of.”
MLB ordered more than 2,500 of the caps from New Era, league spokesman Steven Arrocho said. Many teams will have players sign them, and they will be auctioned to benefit the victims and families affected by the shooting.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday’s gesture “puts everything in perspective.”
“Wearing the hats today, I think that means a lot to all of us. It puts everything in perspective,” Cora said. “Something that obviously, it gets your attention. My daughter turns 15 in a few weeks, and I got an email the other day from her school talking about them having a drill. That’s not normal.”
Fitz-Gerald said it was a “relief” to get back to the sport he loves and to stop thinking, at least for a moment, about the tragedy that befell his school. Fourteen students and three teachers were killed and more than a dozen others were wounded. A former student is in custody on 17 counts of murder.
Since the tragedy, many of the Stoneman Douglas survivors have been outspoken in calling for change, a sentiment Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he respects.
“I hope the kids stay after it,” Maddon said. “From me to them, anything I can do personally, I’m here to help. A lot of guys on the team feel the same way. If there is anything more specific that can be done, I need to know that.
“At some point we have to re-establish sensibility and common sense. Whatever we can do, I want it out there. We need to come together and create some answers.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.