Earlier this year, baseball fan Abel Sanchez approached New Times about his fundraiser for a historical marker to commemorate the glory days of Miami Stadium, an architecturally significant structure built in 1949 that was razed in 2001 to make way for Miami Stadium Apartments in Allapattah.
Within days of the publication of the resulting story, Sanchez was able to pay for the $2,500 plaque thanks to generous gifts from Rolando Llanes of Civica Architecture Group and the Swezy family, which owns Miami Stadium Apartments. Llanes was the producer of White Elephant, a 2008 documentary about the rise and fall of the beloved and then-neglected structure built by Jose Aleman Jr., a former Cuban education minister who became a developer in Miami.
Historically, the site marks the spot for memorable baseball history as the former spring-training home of the Baltimore Orioles, Brooklyn Dodgers, and other teams. The stadium was home to the original Miami Marlins and welcomed many baseball greats in its heyday, including Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Dennis Martinez. In 1987, it was rededicated as Bobby Maduro Stadium in honor of the Cuban baseball entrepreneur.
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A simple dedication ceremony will take place this Saturday to commemorate the new Florida Heritage Site with an official marker designed by the Florida Department of State. Sanchez, Llanes, and Friends of Miami Stadium, whose members include Bobby Maduro’s grandson and Jose Aleman’s grandson, will attend.
Sanchez, who used to sneak into the stadium after the Baltimore Orioles won the World Series in 1983, became a batboy and experienced the stadium’s history firsthand. His nostalgia for the stadium, shared by baseball fans worldwide, comes full circle with the presence of a historical marker.
“Crazy to think that after a year of scraping away, this marker is finally a reality,” he says. “What's right is right, and this feels right. Truly humbled by the overwhelming response, nothing but love. Very cool.”
Miami Stadium Marker Ceremony. 3 p.m. Saturday, December 16, at Miami Stadium Apartments, 2625 NW 10th Ave., Miami. Admission is free.