Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. with his father - Marlon Styles Sr. - from 1994, when the future city school leader was coached by his father before going on to play for two college baseball teams. Styles senior taught his son about the historical importance of major league baseball player Jackie Robinson breaking what was once the league s race barrier to become the first African American player. CONTRIBUTED

Special father-son baseball bond driving effort to honor one of the greats

For the Middletown schools superintendent, honoring famed baseball star Jackie Robinson is personal.

Marlon Styles Jr. learned about the major league baseball’s first African-American player from his father, Marlon Styles Sr.

Family and baseball have long been intertwined in the Styles family, as Marlon Sr. senior coached his son in the 1990s.

The city school leader went on to play at Eastern Kentucky University and Thomas More College. Later he coached varsity baseball teams at Northwest Local Schools and Mount Healthy City Schools in Hamilton County.

Last week, Robinson’s jersey number, No. 42, was retired in a ceremony at the Middletown and Fairfield baseball game.

MORE: Area high school teams partner to honor Jackie Robinson through retiring his jersey number

The Nuxhall Foundation is partnering with the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund to underwrite the program to retire Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson in an effort to promote formative values of good character, the organization said.

Kim Nuxhall, president of the Nuxhall Foundation, said the new program was initiated at the Fairfield vs. Middletown high school game. Nuxhall’s father was beloved former Cincinnati Reds star Joe Nuxhall, who went on to broadcast Reds games for decades.

The jersey retirement program was spearheaded by Marlon Sr., who was Nuxhall’s catcher in the minor leagues and is currently a scout for the Reds.

“I was a catcher, just like my dad,” Styles Jr. said.

MORE: Middletown school leader wins national recognition

“My dad has always been my life coach, not just my favorite baseball coach, and just like my mom they have both been the best life coaches,” he said.

“Seeing him (Styles Sr.) leading the charge to honor Jackie Robinson by having his number retired … gives me a chance as a son to look at him and tell him how proud I am of what he is doing to impact young children in this country.”

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