This item has been filed in | News
Print This Post Print This Post

Family affair at the ballpark: More than 18,000 attend UM Family Night with the Marlins


It was the first UM Family Night with the Marlins for Ethel Leandre, a medical collector at the Miller School, and her husband Errol, daughter Trialany, and son Errol Jr.


Wearing Miami Hurricanes orange and green, they streamed by the thousands through Gate D at Sun Life Stadium, many of them raising their hands and connecting them at the thumbs to form the ubiquitous “U” sign.

Once inside the gate, they enjoyed the many carnival-like activities that were available. Children took their turns negotiating an inflatable obstacle course. They tested their arms at the pitchers station. Others got their faces painted. The young and young at heart posed for pictures with Sebastian the Ibis and Billy the Marlin, waited in line for autographs from their favorite players, and admired the two World Series championship trophies on display.

UM employees who threw out first pitches included, from left, Fernando Moreno, lecturer at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; Alberto Alonso, specialist in Telecommunications; Edward Pfister, professor and dean emeritus of the School of Communication; John Shipley, vice president of finance and treasurer; and Airela Liliana Guardia, coding manager at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.


The Fifth Annual UM Family Night with the Marlins, held on May 1, was a grand slam success for all, as thousands of employees enjoyed a day at the ballpark during an event that has become a UM tradition.

“The kids love it and always look forward to seeing Sebastian,” said Brett Booz, a senior systems analyst in UM’s Information Technology department, holding his 3-year-old son Josiah, while his 5-year-old, Noah, scampered about.

“I’ve been to every one since they started, and it’s always a fun time for the UM community,” said Abraham Varghese, assistant provost for international affairs, whose 5-year-old son Yeshuwa was attending his first UM Family Night.

(Visit this photo gallery for pictures taken during the activities.)

After the pregame party ended, they all witnessed the hometown Marlins defeat the Washington Nationals 7-1 behind the strong pitching of Chris Volstad, who threw a four-hitter for the second complete game of his career.

Educational boost: A $7,500 check was presented to UM’s School of Education to support a scholarship in the Sport Administration Program. From left are mascot Li’l Billy; Nancy Olson, executive director of the Marlins Community Foundation; Warren Whisenant, associate professor of exercise and sport sciences; Billy the Marlin; UM President Donna E. Shalala; Sebastian the Ibis; Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc; and Marlins President David Samson.


UM Family Night is hosted by the president and provost, in collaboration with the Florida Marlins baseball organization, as a way to honor the University’s outstanding employees.

During several ticket distribution sessions held weeks before the game, faculty and staff on UM’s three major campuses got the chance to secure one free ticket and purchase up to three additional game-day seats for $1 each.

Ethel Leandre, a medical collector on the Miller School of Medicine campus, used her allotment of four tickets to take her husband, Errol, and daughter, Trialany, and son, Errol Jr., to the game. “This is a new experience for us,” Leandre said, noting this was her family’s first time attending the event.

The School of Communication received a $5,000 check for student scholarships. From left are PJ Loyello, Marlins senior vice president of communications and broadcasting; Sam L Grogg, dean of UM’s School of Communication; President Shalala; Provost LeBlanc; Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, a former Miami Hurricane; and Marlins President Samson.


In all, some 18,029 employees and their families and friends—more than half the game’s total attendance—turned out for the event, an evening during which all things UM was the theme.

Five UM employees threw out first pitches. Among them: Edward Pfister, professor and dean emeritus of the School of Communication; John Shipley, vice president of finance and treasurer; Alberto Alonso, specialist in Telecommunications; Airela Liliana Guardia, coding manager at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute; and Fernando Moreno, lecturer at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

UM academics got a boost, as the Florida Marlins Community Foundation awarded checks to support scholarships at two schools. The School of Education received $7,500, which will fund a scholarship for a student in the Sports Administration Program, while the School of Communication received $5,000, which will go toward the Suzanne Rayson Scholarship for students who are enrolled in the Broadcast Journalism Program and have shown an interest in sports broadcasting. Rayson, who served as the Marlins director of broadcasting from 2002 to 2008, died two years ago after a battle with cancer.

Face painting was one of many activities enjoyed by employees inside Sun Life Stadium's Gate D.


Eleven lucky employees won raffle prizes. And throughout the game, the public address system boomed with special UM-related announcements. A fireworks display and Willy Chirino concert followed the game.

UM Family Night is the largest event of its kind in Major League Baseball in which a team partners with a single organization to bring employees to one game at special promotional rates, according to Orestes Hernandez, a UM alumnus and senior account executive with the Marlins. While other MLB teams hold similar events, those games typically draw employees from multiple companies, he said.

Next year’s UM Family Night will be the last at Sun Life Stadium, because the Marlins will move into new digs in 2012. Hernandez said the franchise would like to continue the event when the team moves to its new 37,000-seat ballpark in Little Havana.

Share this Listing:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • NewsVine
  • Digg

Comments are closed.

  • Related Stories
  • Tags
  • Popular
  • Subscribe
  • Subscribe to the Veritas RSS Feed
    Get updates to all of the latest Veritas posts by clicking the logo at the right.

    You can also subscribe to specific categories by browsing to a particular section on our site and clicking the RSS icon below each section's header.

UM Facebook

UM Twitter