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Stoneman Douglas Tragedy Hits Close to Home for Anthony Rizzo, Zack Collins

Major League Baseball banded together to honor the victims of the Stoneman Douglas tragedy, a tragedy that hit close to home for Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs and Zack Collins of the White Sox.

Friday marked the return of baseball, exhibition baseball at least — but it also marked a day of remembrance by Major League Baseball, in honor of the 17 children and civilians that lost their lives on February 14 to a teenage gunman who entered the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire.

Major League Baseball decided that all teams will wear Stoneman Douglas baseball hats on this day, a sign of unity and togetherness between the survivors of the tragic mass-shooting, and the players and coaches across baseball. Commissioner Rob Manfred had this to say about the league’s effort to pay homage to those affected by the tragedy;

“Major League Baseball is proud to see our Clubs supporting the Parkland community and the students of Stoneman Douglas in a way that is both meaningful and natural to our sport. The idea began with several of our Grapefruit League Clubs and quickly turned into a league-wide effort. We hope this demonstration by our teams, players, coaches and umpires helps contribute to the healing process of everyone affected by this horrible tragedy.” -MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred

The shooting hits close to home for a few players across baseball. Oakland Athletics prospect Jesus Luzardo and Colorado Rockies prospect Colton Welker are both Stoneman Douglas alumni. Chicago Cubs’ first-baseman Anthony Rizzo is an alum of the Parkland, Florida high school as well.

Rizzo left camp to fly down to his hometown high school as soon as news broke last week, and called speaking at the candle light vigil held for the victims, “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.” When you take into consideration that Rizzo is a cancer survivor, his sentiment about the difficulty of speaking at the school echos even louder.

While Rizzo surely wishes that the city of Parkland, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School wasn’t in the national spotlight for this reason, he is amazed by the amount of support that the Florida town is receiving from the rest of the nation.

“It’s unfortunate that the city is getting so much recognition for this reason,” Rizzo said Friday. “But I think it’s amazing that you know you see the golfers yesterday with all the ribbons and you see everyone honoring what’s going on right now and these kids [and] the whole city is rallying around a lot to see the changes. It’s nice to see.”

The shooting also hit close to home for White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins, who grew up not far from Stoneman Douglas, and has a younger sister who attends high school roughly 20 miles from the site of the February 14 tragedy.

“It’s tough for me because I have a sister (Zoe) in high school 20 miles from there,” Collins said. “They’ve had a bunch of threats after the shooting happened and she’s scared to go to school. Obviously, some sort of change needs to happen. It’s tough for young kids to have to be scared to go to school. It’s just not right.”

Collins is right, something needs to change — and that change needs to come quickly. There won’t be a gun law or gun control soap box here folks, but I’d like to imagine that regardless of you core beliefs or your political affiliation, the all of us have enough common sense to realize that there’s no way in hell a teenager should be able to legally purchase a military-grade assault rifle.

There’s too many occurrences of these mass-shootings going on in this day in age to attempt to rationalize, or justify a child being able to purchase and posses that type of weapon, it’s just asinine. For now, I’ll leave you with Anthony Rizzo’s words that are sure to resonate with everyone.

“We see this on TV too often. I feel like it’s all the time. There’s a cycle to it. We get horrified that this violence is inflicted on our kids. We get angry that there’s nothing we can do and nothing is done about it. And then we ultimately get immune and move on to something else. But then it happens in our own town — in your own school, or the movie theater, or a nightclub, or a church. And we realize that it can happen to us, in our safe and tight-knit community, Parkland.”

“Look, I’m a baseball player, but I’m also an American. I’m a Floridian and I’m a Parklander — for life,” Rizzo said. “While I don’t have all the answers, I know that something has to change before this is visited on another community, and another community, and another community.”
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