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All-Stars trade helmets for hard hats at Habitat build

KANSAS CITY -- Wearing a suit under a blazing sun outside Kauffman Stadium on Monday, American League All-Star Derek Jeter of the Yankees walked from the Joplin House to the Tuscaloosa House in parking lot H and asked one of the Habitat for Humanity All-Star Build volunteers a question:

"How long did it take to build your houses?"

"Three months," she told him.

"Three months?" he said with a look of surprise. "It took me three years to build my house down in Florida. I should have called you."

Yes, it takes three months for a massive team of volunteers to put together one of the nine houses that are going to the tornado-ravaged communities of Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. Two of those houses were being rough-framed right here, for all fans to see, and they will be then loaded in prefab pieces onto a flatbed truck, then finished and presented to families.

Jeter visited the site during the day along with Yankees teammates Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel and Rangers closer Joe Nathan. Commissioner Bud Selig visited a few hours later along with legend Hank Aaron, MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner and author George Will, and hard-hats were the order of the day for headgear.

"I know they were here and I'm proud of them," Selig said of the All-Stars. "Players have been wonderful. Everybody in baseball on all sides has been just great.

"When you think of the good it's doing, and how it's going to help families, all I can say is, 'It's a privilege to be here and be able to do that. I'm proud of what we are doing, I'm proud of the players, and I wish the families who are getting these all the luck in the world."

Joining Habitat for this build is MLB, the MLB Players Trust, State Farm and Holiday Inn Hotels. Baseball fans can help at any time by texting ALLSTAR to 25383 to donate $10 to support Habitat's disaster response work; message and data rates may apply. Holiday Inn Hotels will match fan donations, up to $30,000, and contribute additional funding, if necessary, in order to guarantee a minimum donation of $60,000 to Habitat for Humanity.

Weiner was on the site on Saturday, working on the homes along with his wife, Diane.

"This is what the Players Association and the Players Trust has been all about," he said. "To see these guys, obviously they have a job to do, but to lend their support to this is really important and this message helps. Volunteerism is a key element of our Trust, and Habitat is a great partner to have.

"The All-Star Game is supposed to be about everything that's great about the game of Baseball. One of the things the game and the players have always done is give back. They've never taken for granted what they have. To make a lasting contribution to these communities is really important to these guys."

Steve Rogers, the former All-Star and MLBPA executive, was at Joplin with his wife, Robin, on Friday. David Robertson, the Yankees reliever, is from Tuscaloosa and has been involved in the ongoing efforts there to put displaced people back into homes.

"Anytime you get an opportunity to help out the community, we're all for it," Jeter said. "One of the fun things about playing in an All-Star Game is, you get the opportunity to spend some time with guys you admire from afar, and you play against. Anytime you're doing something like this, it's fun for us.

"I should have gone to the crew out here to help me build a house down in Florida. It's pretty amazing what they are doing to help out people who have been affected and having the volunteers to do this, in not-so-ideal conditions, is something to really be proud of."

Granderson thanked the volunteers and noted that one worker during All-Star Week had to be given care for heat exhaustion. McCutchen was eager to get a screw-gun into his hand and helped put down a plank on the porch.

"You've got to have a front porch to spend time greeting people," he said.

"It was kind of cool to get in there and help out with the volunteers who have obviously been doing such a great job, putting the houses up in two or three months," Nathan said. "They do an outstanding job for some people who need some help right now, with the natural disasters. Major League Baseball has done such a good job teaming up with all of these volunteers, and hopefully doing whatever small part we can to help some people out."