The news jarred the community. A pre-dawn altercation ended in the stabbing death of a Key West man Saturday. Twenty-three year old Marques Butler was stabbed at 4 am during an apparent fight between a group of Key West residents and a group of men from out of town. The stabbing occurred in the vicinity of Caroline and Duval Streets.

Marques Butler was transported to Lower Keys Medical Center where he underwent surgery. He later died.

But, this January a massive sporting event will take place to make sure his sportsmanlike spirit is always a part of the southernmost city.

“I’m just so overwhelmed of the continuous support of the community. I’m just really so overwhelmed.”

Fleasher Hall, Marques’ mom, says she always knew her son was a special child, and shares with the Key West Weekly he didn’t just “walk the walk and talk the talk,” he touched so many lives it’s just overwhelming.

“I have people come up to me and tell me how nice he was and how good of a person he was and what a good friend he was,” Fleasher says.

“Right now, the rosters are pretty much full,” Natalie Yaniz has the low-down from her office at the Beachside Marriott. “We need volunteers, but the teams are set.”

On January 9 and 10, a two-day softball tournament will take over the diamonds at Wicker’s Field and Bayview Park. 12 teams have already signed up. Count on competitive play, especially if you have the guns to hit it out of the park.

“Whoever does that has to pay a $10 fine. There’ll also be a turkey shot and 50/50 raffle,” relays Tony “Fats” Yaniz.

Tony is spearheading the scholarship tourney. He wants to help defray the costs of the funeral and establish a scholarship in Marques’ name to be given to a deserving high school senior who exemplifies Marques’ sense of sportsmanship and fair play.

“Marques played basketball and track. A kidney ailment kept him from playing football, but he loved sports. I’m looking for someone exactly like Tony says. Someone who exemplifies his attitude and manner,” Fleasher offers insight as to who the recipient might be.

Yaniz has named his team after the young man, noted by his friends and family for his easy-going temperament and refusal to let anything shake him or frazzle him in any way.

“We played ball together a lot,” he shares with his thick Cuban accent. “One of the things Marques told me a long time ago when I was grumbling is, ‘remember it’s all about the love. It’s all about the love.’ So my team is All About the Love.”

Start batting practice now. A 14” ball will be in play and Tony has also mentioned musical performances by the KWHS jazz band and the cheerleaders making an appearance to root on the athletes. Marques’ mom plans to be in attendance and has found peace with his passing.

“He lived a great life. I thank God for the 23 years. It was a great 23 years. If I had to mold and make up a son I could not have done such a wonderful job.

He took care of me and his 14-year old brother. He was so content. I could not have asked for a better son.”






The team rosters have filled up. The tourney still needs recycling monitors, people to work concessions, scorekeepers, and umpires. “This is going to involve a tremendous amount of involvement from the community,” says Natalie’s dad, Tony. Call 879•9215 or email Natalie .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you can help out. Natalie


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