Last month, when Marlins CEO Derek Jeter was asked by the Sun Sentinel whether the team planned on attracting Broward County fans, he replied:
I think for us, we have to worry about obviously getting the fan base that’s closest to us. Whether that’s Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Brickell, Pinecrest. All these areas, we really have to focus on marketing toward them and getting them to the park and experience this Marlins brand of baseball now. I think we need to focus on what’s closest to us and then build out. We need to focus on the community that’s closest to the park.
Just a few weeks before the March 28 home opener against the Colorado Rockies, that was a big fuck-you to the African-American community. Since Jeter and his partners acquired the Marlins, the team has made little effort to connect with black baseball fans in Overtown and Liberty City, which are also close to the park. The Fish have also failed to reach out to Miami Gardens, Miramar, and other predominantly African-American communities.
The Marlins should study how the Dolphins' and Hurricanes' football programs approach black fans. Their outreach programs are enormous. Though African-Americans may not fill the stands for every home game, the area's black natives support the teams even when they don't win.
People wrongly assume black people don't like baseball. That is far from the case. Baseball is huge in South Florida's black communities. My son plays on a travel baseball team, and every opposing nine has black kids. Black parents fill the stands for every game. The Liberty City Optimist Club has one of the oldest Little League baseball charters in the nation. About 95 percent of the players are black. So it is sad to see Jeter, who is half-African-American, ignore black baseball fans.
In his first year, Jeter led the Marlins to a horrible finish in the standings and in attendance after dumping players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. Jeter has pretty much guaranteed a similar result this upcoming season.
He recently told reporters: "A lot of times, people come and they don't know who won or lost. Sometimes they don't even know who was playing, but they do know if they had a good experience, and that's what we're focusing on."
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter says fans may not remember the final score of game --- but they will remember the experience pic.twitter.com/yPGDcCPhHG— WPLG Local 10 Sports (@Local10Sports) March 6, 2019
Maybe Jeter just wants to be the only big name for the Marlins. Or perhaps he is learning. But the fact is, Miami baseball fans keep getting screwed. There is still time to apologize and take action before Opening Day.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.