Major League Baseball Players Build a Playground in Opa-Locka, Fla

Hundreds of volunteers turn out to help the Players Trust and KaBOOM! make playground dreams a reality
Jul 11, 2017 12:45 PM ET

Twenty years ago at this time of year, they were ballplayers at the peak of their careers, building toward the Marlins’ first World Series championship.

On Saturday, despite intermittent downpours, Bobby Bonilla, Cliff Floyd and Charles Johnson were among hundreds of people who gathered to build a playground for a South Florida community whose children will benefit from the healthy and creative outlet for their young minds and bodies.

Those ’97 Marlins stars were part of a crew of former players, including Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Dave Winfield, as well as Danys Baez, Jose Cruz Jr., Jeffrey Hammonds, Steve Rogers, Ramon Santiago, Kevin Slowey, Jose Veras and Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark.

To build the playground, the MLBPA and its charitable arm, the Players Trust, joined forces with KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to providing kids a childhood filled with balanced and active play, to build the playground, which will serve more than 1,800 children in Opa-Locka, a community northwest of Miami in Dade County.

“We went through rain, it was hot, but everybody was working together on one mission,” said Johnson, who was an All-Star and Gold Glove catcher for the Marlins’ 1997 World Series championship club. “It was uplifting. Everybody got their hands dirty, their shoes dirty and got right into it. The playground came out beautiful.”

In addition to the former players, more than 200 community volunteers lent their time, muscle and heart to give the kids of Opa-Locka a safe, fun environment to learn and grow.

“Today was a great day because you had major league ballplayers, people from the MLBPA office, the people from KaBOOM! and Room 2 Bloom, and all of the community volunteers coming together, pushing wheelbarrows, carrying sod, doing everything that needed to be done so these kids could have a playground,” Johnson said.

The new playground at Room 2 Bloom, an innovative child care center, was conceived by the Players Trust as a way to say “thank you” to the greater Miami area in anticipation of the warm welcome the All-Stars will receive on Tuesday when they take the field for the Mid-Summer Classic at Marlins Park.

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