In the midst of gearing up for another season with the Rangers, Elvis Andrus took a moment on Monday to help some Dallas high school baseball and softball players get ready for their own season.
The tornadoes that hit North Texas on Oct. 20 inflicted heavy damage on Dallas’ Thomas Jefferson High School. Since that time, the Rangers have been providing support to the baseball and softball teams.
On Monday, the Rangers' shortstop added to that support by donating baseball and softball equipment.
“You guys are the future of this country and this world. For me and the rest of the organization, we support that and we’re behind you guys. We want to help you guys and your team as much as we can,” Andrus told Thomas Jefferson baseball and softball players gathered at the Rangers' MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, for the presentation.
Donated items included equipment bags, helmets, bats, gloves, catchers gear, baseballs, softballs and more.
Thomas Jefferson head softball coach Terry Mercer estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the team’s gear had been lost to the storm.
“A lot of the equipment was very old. A lot of the equipment and apparel we had was lost due to the storm, whether it be water damage or just totally lost," Mercer said. "We had a container outside that had some of our big equipment, and it ended up on the top of someone’s house a block or so over from the school."
The Patriots didn’t lose just their equipment to the tornado -- they also lost their home field. But the Rangers and the Rangers Youth Academy have been able to help there, too, since Thomas Jefferson will join Pinkston and Sunset high schools in practicing and playing home baseball and softball games at the facility in 2020.
“We had been working on our field. We just got a new scoreboard and a new banner. Our field was being worked on and the tornado destroyed it all," Thomas Jefferson senior Hannia Zavala recalled. "It was really rough for us."
“It was a little stressful thinking, ‘What are we going to do? Are we going to have to play all of our games on the road?’ Which would probably have been the next step," Mercer said. "And then the Texas Rangers Youth Academy stepped up."
For his part, Andrus was excited to help the student-athletes continue to develop their passion for the game he loves.
And the Texas Rangers also honored Andrus on Monday for his generosity to the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and its Youth Academy by renaming the first-base dugout on Johnny Oates Field Presented by Papa John’s to the Elvis Andrus First Base Dugout.
“Coming from Venezuela, the sport is everything for me, for my family. It’s the reason I’m here, I can help support all my family," Andrus said. "And now I can support and help the community and other people affected. This sport is amazing. It’s a passion that you need to create in all these kids, a habit. It’s always great to be part of letting them continue to have that passion and follow their dreams."