ARLINGTON, Texas — First responders from the town of West took the field Saturday evening at Rangers Ballpark, cheered on by more than 5,000 West residents in the stands.
All of them were special guests brought in by the home team.
"God bless the Rangers for this day," beamed West Mayor Tommy Muska. "What an incredible opportunity!"
But the trip to the ballpark didn’t just include free tickets.
Outside the stadium, North Texans donated baseball gear for the kids of West.
Inside, the Rangers' Lance Berkman presented town representatives with a new fire truck.
The team then stepped up to the plate to offer one check after another totaling than $150,000 in donations.
It was a Major League helping hand to a town beset by such a major disaster.
“Oh it’s a great natural high,” exclaimed West Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek.
Two and a half months after the fertilizer plant explosion that devastated his community north of Waco, Vanek said the event let the people of his town know they haven’t been forgotten while also — for one night, anyway — giving them the luxury of forgetting.
“We are here to have some fun," Vanek said. "Forget about all the bad times and have some fun with the families and say 'thank you' to the Rangers for doing this for us."
During Saturday's game with the rival Houston Astros, the Texas Rangers players sported a special patch on their sleeves honoring the people of West.
The team will auction off the jerseys in a raffle to raise additional funds for West. The raffle tickets were sold over the past two days.