SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- One of the goals of Major League Baseball for the Puerto Rico Series between the Indians and Twins this week was to continue to assist in the relief efforts after Hurricane Maria. A considerable step was taken on that front on Tuesday afternoon.
Prior to the opener of the two-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was joined by former Major Leaguer Bernie Williams, members of the Indians and Twins' front office and a group of Puerto Rico-born players to announce the donation of $350,000 to Habitat for Humanity, as part of a total of $1 million to hurricane recovery efforts. Two vehicles were gifted, along with supplies, to continue to aid mobile response teams for the island's ongoing recovery.
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"Puerto Rico is strong. We continue to rise up and make Puerto Rico a better place," Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said. "I know Puerto Rico is, so far, a little bit better than how it was. And I encourage everybody to come out here and continue to visit the island. Puerto Rico is going to bounce back. It's bounced back already."
Lindor (Gurabo, P.R.) was joined outside the stadium by Indians catcher Roberto Perez (Mayaguez, P.R.), along with Jose Berrios (Bayamon, P.R.) and Eddie Rosario (Guayama, P.R.) of the Twins. During Monday's off-day, Lindor visited his old grammar school, Rosario made an appearance at his former high school and Berrios took the time to visit a local hospital. Perez is in the midst of helping have a new home built for his mother, whose house was destroyed when Hurricane Maria overtook the island in September.
Williams -- a five-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion -- still has family in Puerto Rico. He visited the United States territory a couple of weeks after the hurricane knocked out power to more than 3 million people on the island and was devastated by what he saw during his trip back home.
"My heart was broken to see the island in that shape," Williams said. "So, I am especially proud to be a part of this effort from Major League Baseball. Not only Major League Baseball, but the individual players that have been chipping in."
The donation to Habitat for Humanity included a Ford F-150 XL and Ford Transit Connect XLT. The vehicles will be used to travel the island to help the rebuilding efforts, especially for families who do not have the means to do it themselves. Tjada McKenna, the chief operating officer of Habitat for Humanity International, noted that the organization has helped more than 230,000 families in more than 50 countries over the past two decades.
"Recovery from these damaging hurricanes will be measured in years," McKenna said. "Maria may have caused massive damage to properties. It may have blown away roofs and windows. It may have destroyed trees and cluttered roads. It certainly smashed the power grid. But it did not sap the human strength of Puerto Rico. We're encouraged and in awe of Puerto Ricans as they have helped and shaped their own recovery."
Beyond MLB contributions, Manfred lauded the efforts of individual teams and players over the past seven months in the wake of the hurricane.
"What's really more remarkable than sort of the central response here," Manfred said, "is the fact that 15 of our clubs undertook some kind of effort in addition to what Major League Baseball was doing. Some clubs made multi-million-dollar donations. Other clubs air-lifted supplies in here -- cargo planes of supplies. And, really, I think it's a demonstration of the commitment of this sport to this island."