For perhaps as long as the game has been played, Major League baseball players have cared deeply about the places where they play and live, and that passion and compassion came to the forefront this week when baseball took a backseat to many players’ concerns for the people in communities devastated by Tropical Storm Harvey.
Whether it was Astros players who make Houston their home town for much of the year, players who live or have friends and family in Southeast Texas or those who just want to help, the sick feeling of helplessness and futility when the storm hit quickly gave way to action plans to support people in need and help rebuild for years to come.
Jay Bruce, who lives in especially hard-hit Beaumont, Texas, worked out an arrangement with his new club in which he will match peoples’ donations to Cleveland Indians Charities up to $100,000 through Sept. 10 for flood victims. Among Bruce’s concerns was that smaller locales like Beaumont wouldn’t get the attention they need.
$91,488.89 AS OF 4PM! I can’t thank everyone who’s donated enough. All of SETX will be so grateful. Let’s make sure this is only the start! pic.twitter.com/YpwiR47YHp
— Jay Bruce (@JayBruce87) August 31, 2017
“It’s my hometown,” Bruce said. “It’s where I was born and raised and it’s affecting so many more people than I could’ve ever imagined that I know personally. “As someone from there, with the platform to raise awareness and do my part, since I can’t be there helping, I felt like this was a no-brainer for me,” Bruce said, noting his family is safe but other families he knows have lost all of their physical possessions. “It’s going to be a long road, but I’m confident and very hopeful that the community of southeast Texas and the community of Beaumont overall will band together and do a great job of rebuilding this whole deal,” he said on Wednesday.
Yankees reliever David Robertson is from Alabama, not Texas, but disaster relief has been a driving force in his life since 2011 when tornadoes struck Tuscaloosa and Birmingham and he and his wife, Erin, began High Socks for Hope to help families rebuild their lives.
Robertson’s charity was already in high gear before Harvey hit land as a hurricane, providing helpful information and support on various social media platforms.
“Because we’ve worked in flooded areas, we do know the kinds of supplies to gather for people to work on their homes,” High Socks for Hope told followers of its Facebook page. “We want to gather items to help in the gutting and de-molding of the home. We also want to help with items like bed pillows, blankets and small housewares.”
Lance McCullers Jr., who is in his third season with Houston and previously pitched for Corpus Christi in the Double-A Texas League, usually focuses on helping stray and homeless animals, but he quickly broadened his outreach when thousands of people in his adopted hometown were left homeless from the storm’s record-setting rainfall and flooding.
**Link in bio** I am so proud to be a part of this city and represent this great community. Thank you to all of those who have been reaching out to help support the families and animals affected by hurricane Harvey. The @lancemccullersjrfoundation is working directly to help Houston shelters and volunteers with their efforts on the ground. We will also be collecting donations in order to assist in finding these displaced animals safe haven and give these shelters the resources that they need so that these animals will not be EUTHANIZED. ALL proceeds will go directly toward aiding the families and animals of Houston. Please consider our cause! Click the link in our bio to make a donation and help with our #harveyrelief efforts #houstonstrong #ksfork9s
“It’s scary,” Astros outfielder George Springer said. “It’s obviously tough for us to be our here where it’s 80 degrees and blue skies and there’s a lot of people at home in serious jeopardy. We’re human beings too. We have houses and families and belongings there too.” Springer, from New Britain, Conn., is working with local businesses in Connecticut to support relief efforts by collecting items and shipping them on trucks to Houston. He made a video plea for donations.
Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter, who was born in Galveston and grew up in Texas, is donating $10,000 toward hurricane relief each time he hits a home run for the rest of the season.
Dodgers pitcher Scott Kazmir, who grew up and still lives in Houston and pitched for the Astros in the second half of 2015, donated $130,000 split among four organizations — $10,000 to Houston’s SPCA, $10,000 to Coalition for Homeless, $10,000 to Houston Food Bank, and $100,000 to the Bayou City Fellowship. Curtis Granderson, the reigning Marvin Miller Man of the Year and a longtime star on the field and in the community, pledged $25,000 to the Houston Food Bank and used his Grand Kids Foundation platform to urge others to contribute, as well.
#GrandKids is donating $25K to @houstonfoodbank (75K meals) in the wake of #HurricaneHarvey. Join us, $1 = 3 Meals https://t.co/92453xcj2s pic.twitter.com/r9sI3bbQKP — Curtis Granderson (@cgrand3) August 30, 2017
Slugging second baseman Brian Dozier and teammates including Houston native Tyler Duffy got together to launch the “Twins for Texas” online fundraising campaign. In a video plea Dozier posted on social media he noted the campaign had a $50,000 goal but that he was “almost certain that we will reach that, surpass that and keep going.”
Matt Albers and Anthony Rendon, both Houstonians, also launched an online fundraising page whose proceeds will go directly to the Houston Food Bank and area shelters. Albers was frustrated to be away when his wife, Tara, who is eight months’ pregnant, and son evacuated from the Houston suburb of The Woodlands on Monday morning.
“You kind of feel helpless up here playing the game,” Albers told the Washington Post. “It kind of puts it in perspective a little bit.
“It’s been pretty crazy to see the devastation. It’s pretty sad honestly. My parents are there, too. They’re pretty close to the Brazos River in Sugarland, so their area has had some voluntary evacuations … just seeing all that, dealing with all that, it’s kind of surreal and heartbreaking.”
In an interview with the newspaper on Sunday, Rendon, who also played collegiately in Houston at Rice, was concerned about the waters beginning to threaten his parents’ property.
“I called my parents this morning, and it’s just frustrating just hearing the voice from my mom and from my dad and my brother. Just knowing that you can’t be down there.”
Angels’ superstar Mike Trout and teammate Huston Street, a Texas native, announced they were donating $27,000 and $30,000, respectively, and made public appeals for donations through their social media platforms, as well.
“Obviously, we play the Astros and go to that city a few times a year,” Trout told the Orange County Register on Tuesday. “To see the city, how beautiful it is, and to see the pictures and how devastating it is, the floods have overtaken everything. … It’s the least I can do. Obviously, I can’t go down and help, but I thought every little thing can help.”
Delino DeShields, Jason Grilli, Adam Jones, Howie Kendrick, Mark Melancon, Bud Norris and Justin Verlander were also among the dozens of major leaguers who made public appeals to help victims of the historic flooding affecting the region.
The Astros wives and girlfriends started a wish list registry on Amazon.com for items going directly to the Houston Food Bank.
For baseball players and their families, it was a community effort to help communities in need.
Join Major Leaguers in supporting these organizations: