Cubs Anthony Rizzo Gives Emotional Speech At Parkland Shooting Vigil

The mass shootings at a Parkland, Fla. school that killed 17 people has hit close to home for the MLB family. Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo returned home on Thursday to lend support to the people of his community in their darkest of hours, attending and speaking at a vigil for students of his former high school who were victims of the Florida Massacre on Wednesday and a heroic football coach he knew well as a kid.  

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The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, fought through tears as he delivered a heartfelt speech at a vigil held for Wednesday’s shooting victims. https://t.co/ZJcdgqMkRy

Rizzo, 28, graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2007 and shortly after the tragedy tweeted support for his community and noted that “our country is in desperate need of change” after another mass shooting. 

Anthony Rizzo on Twitter

Parkland and Coral Springs please stay strong! This is out of control and and our country is in desperate need for change. I hope In this darkest of times back home this brings everyone together and we can find love. You’re all in my prayers

The death of 17 innocent victims has brought misery to that community and the repercussions and impact of the AR-15 inspired mass shootings have reverberated throughout the MLB world, where many teams are in South Florida reporting for training camps. 

 In addition to being a former student at the school, Rizzo played football for two years at Stoneman Douglas and knew assistant coach Aaron Feis, who was shot and killed while shielding kids from the crazed gunman.  

Anthony Rizzo on Twitter

Hero https://t.co/JsgQ3q7sT7

I studied in those classrooms, in all the buildings you saw on TV for all the wrong reasons, Rizzo said. 

Parkland is less than an hour from spring training sites on Florida’s east coast. The tragedy was already stunning to everyone, but when it was discovered that Rizzo once attended the school and grew up in the community, MLB voices on the killings moved to the forefront.  

“My parents called me immediately and theyre like, Hey, theres a shooting at this school in Broward (County),'” Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. told reporters on Thursday morning. “I go, Which school is it? They told me Douglas and Im, Oh, my God, thats where Rizz went. I had played there. I personally dont know anybody there, but still, its part of the south Florida family.

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly expressed his concern. 

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Don Mattingly sends “heartfelt condolences” to shooting victims. “I don’t know the solution. But there’s got to be a way to make it better.

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch addressed the Florida Massacre from the team’s West Palm Beach facility. 

Mark Berman on Twitter

AJ Hinch on the tragedy in Parkland, Florida: “My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire community.” https://t.co/SVFpbAGzCC

Rizzo is a huge star in baseball and his presence at the vigil has added another layer to this tragedy and with a reported 18 incidents involving gunfire at schools in the first 45 days of 2018, gun control has once again been thrust into the spotlight and become the hot topic for national debate. 

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Stoneman Douglas teacher: “It seems to me like we’re more worried in this country about whether or not athletes take a knee at a sporting event than whether or not we protect our kids in a school.” https://t.co/Ji83T5FWh3

Its a topic totally free from race. This might just be the incident that sparks a political consciousness in MLB that we havent seen in decades. MLB has been quiet as NBA and NFL players go head up with the Presidentand use their athletic platforms to express their feelings about bad politics and issues of social injustice. 

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Steve Kerr on the Parkland, Florida shooting: “It doesn’t seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death.” https://t.co/2WKxHDuFZO

Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland As was the only MLB player to take a knee. If the President doesnt address these ridiculous amount of mass shootings, the impact of this tragedy and Rizzos connection to the community, may spark a social and political movement in baseball of another nature. MLB players may start using their celebrity as a platform to challenge the government to start saving the lives of these innocent, slaughtered youth.

 It doesnt matter how rich or poor, how dark or light the person is, bullets dont discriminate. The Florida massacre is a reminder that no one is safe in a country where guns are so easily accessible. Not even our kids. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.