It will be the first official game in Puerto Rico since the Mets and Marlins played in 2010. Two baseball games will be played but turning the spotlight to this small island country is much more important.Work To Be Done
For many, it’s hard to believe that Puerto Rico is still trying to dig out from Hurricane Maria. Most major cities are closer to being back to normal but the mountainous regions are still dealing with the long-term effects. Players and coaches with connections to Puerto Rico are hoping the mountain regions get more focus during this two game series.
“We still have work to do,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “People don’t realize there are people in the mountains that have no water, no power. It’s been six or seven months. That’s tough. We complain we don’t have power for three days and we’re going nuts, so imagine not having that. Our population is an older one. There are a lot of people in need in the mountains. It’s a struggle for them.”
Eddie Rosario and Francisco Lindor will be looking to help out the community in other ways. As part of the “Players Going Home” program, both players will welcome roughly 250 youth to a special baseball clinic. The students will come from the elementary school Lindor attended as a child.
Other fundraising events will be happening throughout the coming days. According to MLB.com, there will be a charity golf event to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico and Habitat for Humanity, a PLAY BALL event and a Puerto Rico R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) game.
The importance of this event hasn’t been lost on Rosario. “I’m happy because we will be able to bring happiness to my island after Hurricane Maria. These two days will be unforgettable for me and the island of Puerto Rico. People are extremely excited and happy to be able to witness Major League Baseball.”
Some of the excitement will be built on the field before the games, where there will be other important Puero Ricans in attendance. Former big leaguer Bernie Williams will sing the Star-Spangled Banner and recently retired Carlos Beltran will throw out the first pitch. Before the first game, there will also be a ceremony honoring residents who helped in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
“These two regular season games will show the world that we are open for business,” said Anaymir Munoz Grajales, Vice President of MB Sports. “Puerto Rico is ready to receive fans from all over to enjoy our hospitality and all that the island has to offer.”
What Can You Do?
As events get underway, you might be asking how you can help the situation in Puerto Rico. There are plenty of opportunities this week.
Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Roberto Alomar are hosting an online auction with proceeds going to the Habitat for Humanity and Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico. The auction items include autographs and experiences from multiple sports. Auction items will end on Thursday, April 19 at 7 pm.
Here are some other options for assisting those in need (some of the list compiled by PBS.org):
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico is one of the organizations that MLB has identified for multiple events this week. Before hurricanes Irma and Maria, 58% of Puerto Rican children lived in poverty. One has to believe that number increased with the devastation caused by the storm.
- Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico is another organization supported by Major League Baseball as part of their relief efforts. Habitat is responding to the hurricane by preparing to help families to rebuild and repair their homes.
- ConPRmetidos, a nonprofit based in San Juan, and Foundation for Puerto Rico are trying to raise $10 million to finance long-term relief efforts. Donations to their Puerto Rico Real-Time Recovery Fund will be used to help restore power, fund structural repairs in the most marginalized communities and improve needs assessment efforts to identify and support unattended areas.
- Unidos Por Puerto Rico was created through a partnership between the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, and the private sector. The initiative is focused on helping individuals and small businesses on the island recover by offering support for housing, food and health needs.
- The Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund is supporting immediate and long-term rebuilding of Puerto Rico by awarding grants to local initiatives and low-income communities hardest hit by the hurricane.
- The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is addressing medium and long-term recovery needs, including mental health treatment and the rebuilding of infrastructure, homes and businesses. Along with helping Puerto Rico, donations to the fund will provide relief to other areas in the U.S. mainland and the Caribbean ravaged by the 2017 hurricane season.
- Other national and global humanitarian organizations, such as Oxfam, American Red Cross, International Medical Corps, Americares, Save the Children and The Salvation Army are collecting donations to mobilize supplies and volunteers on the island.
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