Major League Baseball on Monday committed to helping the disaster relief efforts in Hawaii, where a series of wildfires has killed at least 96 people this month.
The wind-driven fires, which mainly affected the island of Maui and devastated the popular tourist town of Lāhainā, prompted evacuations and caused widespread damage. As of Monday afternoon, at least 1,000 people remained missing, according to local authorities.
“It breaks my heart to think that my little home in the middle of the ocean could have been devastated this bad,” said former MLB All-Star and Hawaii native Shane Victorino. “A lot of this is where I was born. This is where I was raised. This was my roof.”
MLB has been a disaster responder partner of the Red Cross since 2022, which gives it the opportunity to provide funding in advance of disasters that hit communities throughout the year. This advance funding allows the Red Cross to quickly activate staff and resources to all those in need. Since the fires began, the Red Cross and other partners have provided more than 2,100 overnight shelter stays.
The public is invited to join MLB and donate directly to the Red Cross at www.redcross.org/mlb or text HAWAII to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Speaking on MLB Network on Monday, Victorino implored the public for assistance in response to the fires, which he said “could be one of the worst natural disasters in American history.”
A two-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion outfielder, Victorino distinguished himself during a 12-year MLB career with the Phillies and Red Sox as well as the Dodgers, Padres and Angels from 2003-15. He became a fan favorite in part because of his hard-nosed style of play and love for his home state, proudly sporting the nickname “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” during his career.
Victorino is one of 48 players in MLB history to hail from Hawaii.
“Everybody that got to see me playing the game of baseball, the reason why I played the way I did is because I grew up there and I was taught that way as a kid,” Victorino said. “I always tell people I come from a beautiful place that everybody loves to visit. It was my home, and it's a special place. It’s about our culture, it's about the Hawaiian Kingdom, it's about some of the things that made me who I am.”
Victorino said that wildfires were always a threat growing up on Maui, adding that the prospect “traumatized me all my life” and citing it as a reason he decided not to purchase a home on the west side of the island. He lauded the resiliency of Hawaiians during this extremely challenging time.
“For me, the best part about this, watching from afar, is that everyone there has stepped up, from an aspect of having products, non-perishable items,” Victorino said. “The focus now at this point is: How can we collectively come together? Finding a way to raise financial donations, a good amount of money. Because I always tell people, a lot of the devastation and the area that has been hit, this is multigenerational families. Families that have been there forever.
“A lot of these people aren't going to be able to get back on their feet. There’s been talk about people wanting to leave because of the devastation and how long it's going to take to rebuild. So my biggest thing is, how can I give these people hope? And the hope is: We will be there to help you. I will be there to help you with the best I can.”