Rangers’ Berkman to donate firetruck to West

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Rangers designated hitter Lance Berkman hasn’t lived in the Waco area since he was about 6 years old, but when he heard of the devastation and heartache wrought by the fertilizer plant explosion in West, he told team officials he wanted to help.

Rangers staffers contacted West and learned that the city needed a firetruck and firefighting gear to replace what was lost in the April 17 blast that killed 15 people and injured more than 200.

Berkman was on board with the idea immediately. On Saturday, when the Rangers host 5,000 residents and first responders from West for what is sure to be an emotional night, Berkman will present the refurbished white and red pumper to city officials.

The truck, which Arlington Fire Department Battalion Chief Bill McQuatters procured through a vendor, has Berkman’s name and jersey number 27 on the door, but the grizzled ballplayer said Wednesday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington that “they can peel it off, for all I care.”

“As long as [the truck] works,” he said. “The utility of it is more important.”

Humbled by response

McQuatters said the vendor, Union Grove, Ala.-based Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, was the same one the department used last year to help outfielder Nelson Cruz donate a firetruck and ambulance to his hometown.

“It runs well. It pumps well,” he said. “We got it here and polished it up. It will be a good truck for them.”

The Fire Department is donating nozzles, debris hooks and an axe and at Berkman’s request is looking into air packs that he would also donate.

On Saturday night, the Rangers play the Astros at 6:15 p.m. Rangers spokesman John Blake said the event might be the biggest of its kind that the team has held.

“We started off thinking there would be about 1,000 people,” he said. “We’ve been pretty humbled by the response and the amount of appreciation they have expressed.”

The 5,000 guests will wear T-shirts that say “Support West,” and the pregame ceremony will include a performance by the West High School Junior Historian Dancers and on-field recognition of first responders.

First baseman Mitch Moreland will present a check for $27,000 from Rangers players for purchase of sports equipment for West teams. The Rangers Baseball Tomorrow Fund will give $5,000 to the Legacy West Education Foundation.

David Murphy, who played baseball a few miles down Interstate 35 from West at Baylor, said his teammates didn’t have to be persuaded to help.

During Saturday’s game the Rangers will wear a patch that says “Support West” on the right sleeves of their game jerseys, which will be raffled to raise additional funds for the relief efforts.

“Fortunately, we make a pretty good living playing baseball,” he said. “We have the ability to help. Especially in this clubhouse, we have a very giving bunch of guys, a bunch of unselfish guys who are willing to help in the community.”

Major league donations

Fans may drop off new and gently used baseball and softball equipment at any entrance of Rangers Ballpark from 4 to 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association will make a donation of $100,000 toward the relief efforts, and the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation will present a $40,000 check to the West City Council.

West Mayor Tommy Muska, members of the city council, and West native and former major-league player Scott Podsednik will take part in the presentation.

The colors will be presented by the Connally High School Junior ROTC and the national anthem will be performed by the Minesterial Joint Choir of West. A moment of silence will honor the 15 people who died.

Some West residents will travel to Arlington in buses provided by the Fox Sports Southwest Fan Express, Dan Dipert Coaches and Durham Charter Services.

Brothers honored

On Tuesday night, the Waco employer of two firefighters killed in the blast presented West officials with a check for $45,950 to purchase another firetruck, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. Brothers Robert and Doug Snokhous were longtime employees of Central Texas Iron Works.

McQuatters, the Arlington battalion chief, said it was easier to procure this truck than the highly specific one needed in Cruz’s Dominican Republic hometown, where there are no fire hydrants and the roads are often unpaved.

“Hopefully we can do more” of these kinds of donations, he said.

Joked Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, “We are getting into the firetruck business.”

Correspondent John Henry contributed to this report.

Patrick M. Walker, 682-232-4674 Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?