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MLB to assist in Texas plant relief efforts

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association on Thursday announced a combined $100,000 donation to the POINTWEST Bank Fund to assist victims of the April 17 catastrophe in West, Texas, that claimed 15 lives and injured 200 others.

The funds will support individuals and families who have been affected by the fertilizer plant fire and explosion, either by loss of life or home. The funds will be distributed by POINTWEST Bank and claims will be evaluated by St. Mary's Church of the Assumption, both based in West.

MLB will encourage fans to donate to POINTWEST Bank Fund throughout all national telecasts on FOX, ESPN, TBS and MLB Network, and it will promote the charity with signage behind home plate., and also will promote the Fund and accept online donations.

"Major League Baseball is proud to support the people of West, Texas, during their community's difficult time of need," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Major League Baseball, our 30 clubs, MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network offer its sincere condolences to all the individuals and the families affected by this tragedy, and we hope that our industry's contribution will assist in the community's recovery."

The Rangers already have organized a number of relief efforts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, including collections of essential items and cash, as well as holding a blood drive. Fans and the Rangers Baseball Foundation have donated thousands of dollars in gift cards and $40,000 in cash for victims and residents of West, and much more help is needed.

Investigators are looking into the cause of the catastrophe. The MLB announcement comes a day after a hearing by Texas state lawmakers in Austin, and a day after President Barack Obama expanded the emergency declaration made shortly after the blast, allowing West households to get direct help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

For those in the Texas area, physical donations also may be dropped off at any branch location in West, Hewitt and China Spring.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.