The Miami Marlins will use their City Connect uniforms to honor the Sugar Kings, a volatile but monumental former minor league organization with a special connection to the Cuban-American population of South Florida.
The new uniforms were unveiled by the team on Monday morning and will be worn for the first time by Marlins players on Friday, the day after Cuba’s Independence Day. The team will wear the uniforms throughout the home series over the weekend against the New York Mets, which will host the team’s Cuban Heritage Night, and in five other weekend series the remainder of this season.
The Sugar Kings were a triple-A team in the International League owned by Bobby Maduro and played in Havana, Cuba from 1954 to 1960.
Maduro – so revered in Miami that a ballpark was named after him – sought to transform the Sugar Kings into a major league team from Cuba, a goal supported by the team’s popular motto, “Un Paso Mas Y Llegamos “is expressed. (“One more step and we’ll get there”). The team grew close and won the Junior World Series in 1959, but Fidel Castro’s rise to power and Cuba’s deteriorating relations with the United States forced the team to suddenly move to New Jersey and eventually disband.
“Un paso mas y llegamos!” One more step and we arrive. The motto of Cuba’s legendary Sugar Kings ™ is a mantra of excellence and achievement. The collection celebrates the city’s pride, boast, and love for the game the way it is meant to be played: with heart and soul pic.twitter.com/9es513LuvW
– Nike Diamond (@nikediamond) May 17, 2021
Miami’s older generation of Cubans, many of whom live in Little Havana, the site of the Marlins ballpark, still look back on this team with great awe. Cookie Rojas, a Cuban American who played for the Sugar Kings and had a 16-year career in the Major League, described the Marlins uniforms as “a very good, well-deserved representation of the ball club in trying to give the Sugar Kings. ” what they deserve. “
“I think it’s one of the greatest things fans can remember right now,” said Rojas, who believes Maduro should be honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “You can dream a lot about what could have happened.”
The Marlins are one of seven teams – along with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants – to compete with Nike and Major League Baseball in the ” City Connect Series “work together. as a way to tap into the culture of their respective communities.
It took two years to design the uniforms. The Marlins quickly realized they should honor the Sugar Kings, but wanted something bolder and more vibrant than the team’s original uniforms. They were looking for jerseys that would burst in the field but could also be worn at events, said Michael Shaw, Marlin’s vice president of experience and innovation, and eventually opted for an inverted look with the legacy red as the base color.
The “Miami” script on the front is done in a font similar to that used by the Sugar Kings, but the white pinstripes on the shirt are noticeably wider. The hat’s crest and the right sleeve of the jersey feature the original Sugar Kings logo with two Ms to represent the Miami Marlins.
The Cincinnati Reds-affiliated Sugar Kings were one of the sport’s first multinational teams, an encapsulation of Miami’s melting pot identity.
“When you think of the diversity, will and determination of a team that wants to break barriers and have bigger dreams of playing Major League Baseball, we’ve seen a lot of connectivity between our young people and our team that they’re looking for Bigger achieve and dream and achieve more and do more against all odds, “Shaw said.
The Sugar Kings climax came in 1959 when they played their best season amidst turmoil across the country. Castro rose to power earlier this year but initially showed support for the Sugar Kings and knocked out ceremonial first place ahead of the team’s opening game. In Games 3, 4 and 5 of the Junior World Series, Castro was right behind home plate. For game 6 he sat in the team’s dugout. The series reached Game 7 and 35,000 people grabbed today’s Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana. The Sugar Kings won on a single, took the title, and sent a lot of people out on the field.
But US-Cuba relations quickly deteriorated. Communism and nationalist ideals conquered the island. By the mid-1960s, the Sugar Kings had moved to Jersey City, the Cuban government had seized Maduro’s stadium, and players had the difficult choice of leaving their families to pursue their dreams of playing in the big leagues.
As they navigated through that fateful 1959 season, the players clung to faint hope that their success could help slow the momentum and keep Maduro’s dream of a major league franchise alive in Cuba. Instead, Cuba changed in every possible way, making Rojas constantly think about what could have been.
He no longer has his old Sugar Kings uniform.
“I wish I still had it, to be honest,” said Rojas. “I wish I had it. Because it would be something to really look at and remember all the things that could have happened.”