(ARLINGTON, Texas) — For a few hours, the beleaguered residents of West, Texas were able to put aside this spring’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion thanks to baseball.
The Texas Rangers invited the entire north Texas community to their Saturday night ballgame against the Houston Astros. The Rangers wore special patches on their jerseys that read “Support West”.
Before the first pitch, there was a 30-minute ceremony honoring first responders and the 15 people who were killed in the April 17 blast. During the pregame ceremony, the town was presented with $140,000 in donations from major league baseball, the players union and the Rangers’ foundation for the town’s recovery efforts.
The Rangers’ Lance Berkman, a Houston native, donated a fire truck to West’s volunteer fire department.
West mayor Tommy Muska said the whole experience was a gift to the community. “I think two and a half months into this tragedy, they need to sit back and breathe a little bit,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek said seeing the people of West enjoying themselves was heart-warming. “Lot of people have lost their homes and have had a hard time gathering places,” he said. “To see all those people from a great-grandfather to a great grandson…it’ll bring a tear to your eye.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Stephanie Halasz, Jason Hanna and Livia Borghese, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN Newswire