Joaquin Oliver loved baseball, and each and every summer he’d go to ballparks along with father.
Fenway Park was his favorite. He loved Big Papi, the massive crowds plus the traditional singing of “Sweet Caroline” in the seventh inning stretch.
“My kid loved this city. Oh my god God. We came here to the next ballpark and had fun,” said his father, Manuel Oliver. “I remember Joaquin and me debating about where do you enjoy the best hotdog in different ballpark and that was the following — Fenway Park watching the Red Sox playing.”
Yesterday, Manuel was way back in Boston to unveil an effective billboard he designed bearing his son’s face and the chilling words: “Only had attended school in Massachusetts in place of Parkland Florida, I might likely be alive today.”
Joaquin, 17, was among 17 people killed Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior high school by the former student equipped with an AR-15, a rifle he has bought legally in Florida which had been made at Smith & Wesson in Massachusetts.
A local nonprofit, Stop Handgun Violence, and alter the Ref, an organization brought to life by Joaquin’s parents, held a press conference inside shadow of the billboard along at the corner of Boylston and Dalton streets.
Boston police Commissioner William Gross, Attorney General Maura Healey, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III counseled me there, touting the state’s tough gun laws and contacting people to vote Tuesday.
But it was Manuel’s words that hit home.
Manuel with his fantastic wife, Patricia, fled violence in Venezuela 20 years ago and chose peaceful Parkland to improve their son and daughter.
“We have been, as a parent, seeking to give our house the safest home,” Manuel said. “We’re attempting to give Joaquin everything he deserved. I think we made a good choice by moving to America. I don’t regret that. I’m sure today we have problems here to be solved here.”
Manual and Patricia want to elect initially a few weeks after becoming U.S. citizens this past year.
They stood a strong message for Florida voters. “Anyone that is it being held up by the gun lobby or the NRA is just not capable of solve the situation,” Manuel said. “Actually, they’re portion of the problem.”
Manuel had on his son’s size 11 Nike sneakers. His son wore them playing basketball the night time before he was murdered. They’re now decorated with colorful bracelets from groups fighting gun violence.
“I would like to feel precisely what it sounds like just to walk in their shoes,” Manuel said.
A couple of weeks ago, Manuel told his wife Joaquin was going to profit the Sox win the whole world Series because “he’s prepared to go to Boston which has a strong message.”
It was the 1st time Manuel watched a new Series without his son by his side.
“And this wasn’t easy,” Manuel said. “Nevertheless the indisputable fact that it ended up assembling the two incredibly strong things — city of Boston, the Red Sox team and my son — it was a wonderful experience.”