Rangers aid Arlington Little League whose fall season was canceled

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Southeast Arlington Little League wasn’t able to play on its regular fields this season, but for a short while Wednesday night, some young players happily stepped onto a much bigger diamond.

The league’s fall season was canceled after board members found that so much money was missing from its account that they couldn’t cover the rent for fields and other expenses. The board’s former president is accused of stealing more than $20,000.

Enter the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and shortstop Elvis Andrus, pitcher Derek Holland and closer Joe Nathan.

“I think it’s terrible,” Holland said. “I was a Little Leaguer, and that’s where the dreams come true. One day, they’ll get to be at the stage I’m at, and turn around and help, too.”

The donations will help the group resume play with the spring season.

As a bonus, the Rangers donated 550 tickets to Wednesday night’s game against the Houston Astros so young players and their families could attend.

And before the game, a lucky few kids and board members were presented with a check for $20,000 from the foundation and the three players.

“I just think it’s awesome that we get to come here,” said an excited 12-year-old Gavin Wilson before he was tickled by mascot Rangers Captain. “We’ll have better stuff in the spring than what we had before.”

Former board president Claudia Yamell Castillo, 34, faces theft charges. She was arrested last week and was released on bail. She has not replied to repeated requests for comment.

League secretary Kim Mejia said money donated by individuals and the Rangers Foundation provides a stepping stone for the future.

“One of the many hurdles is getting over the bad and focusing on the league,” she said. “A lot of people lost trust, and we need to get that back.”

Mejia said she started crying when she learned the Rangers would donate money. And on Wednesday, she and Jessica Larson, wife of current league president Lucas Larson, were still teary-eyed.

“How blessed we feel for the kids,” Jessica Larson cried. “It’s just been a hard last few months. We only slept four hours a night just trying to figure out how to make the league work.”

Nathan said his decision to donate money to the league was an easy one, and he wants the kids to keep dreaming because the same dreaming on his part led him to where he is today.

“As a kid, Little League was just something I took for granted,” Nathan said. “I never really thought that it could be taken away from me.”

Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST

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