SCOTTSDALE - As Ty Blach prepared to kick off the Cactus League season on Friday morning, some fans asked him about the hat the Giants were wearing. Blach was happy to spread the word.
The Giants joined the rest of Major League Baseball in wearing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High caps on the first day of the exhibition season. Teams were given the option of wearing the caps -- which were black and had a red "SD" logo -- during the game, and the Giants unanimously took part. For Blach, who grew up about 20 miles from Columbine High, the tribute was a special one.
"It's such a tragedy what happened down there," Blach said of the campus shooting in South Florida that left 17 dead earlier this month. "It's hard on a lot of people. We're not geographically in Florida but it hits home for everybody."
Blach was eight years old at the time of the Columbine shooting and said his school went into lockdown.
"It was horrible," he said. "It's something that stayed close to home for me. I see all these shootings and it's tough."
The pitcher who followed Blach on the mound Friday also appreciated MLB's decision and the moment of silence before the first pitch. Andrew Suarez, a lefty from the Miami area, said he played summer ball a few years ago with a kid who went to Stoneman Douglas.
"Everyone was happy about it," he said of the caps. "I was pretty happy about it. I'm from South Florida and I know a kid from there. I was glad to wear it and represent them."
New Era produced more than 2,500 caps so that players, coaches, umpires and team employees could represent Stoneman Douglas on Friday. Clubs were encouraged to have the caps signed and auctioned off to raise funds to assist the victims and families of the February 14 shooting. An authenticator was in the clubhouse during Friday's game to help with the process.
"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," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "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."