The tragedy and destruction that Moore, Okla. experienced Monday afternoon touched home with a member of the Tennessee Smokies organization. Outfielder Ty Wright spent his college career in Stillwater, Okla. as a member of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, just 73 miles from Moore.
Wright and the Tennessee Smokies are using the five-game homestand with the Huntsville Stars, running from May 23-May 27, to raise funds for the victims of the tragic events in Moore.
Wright found out about the tragedy before the Smokies’ Monday double-header against the Chattanooga Lookouts.
“At first, anytime you hear about a tornado, you take it serious but at the same time you kind of think that everybody’s going to be ok,” Wright said of learning about the tragic events. “Whenever everything was all said and done, it was just devastating to hear what had happened in Oklahoma.”
“The whole state of Oklahoma, like several other places in this country, is just a great place and everybody is going to get behind them.”
For Wright, the destruction of two elementary schools in the direct path of the tornado struck home.
“Just hearing, especially what had happened with all the kids, and now having a kid of my own who is one-year old, I can’t imagine what those parents are going through,” Wright said. “It’s just devastating to really put myself in the parents’ shoes and to think about my kid in trouble during anytime in a major disaster such as something that happened in Oklahoma.”
During the homestand, fans will be able to help Wright and the Smokies gather funds to send to the victims.
The Smokies are donating $10 for every hit the team collects during the five-game series.
On Friday night, fans will be able to participate in a special postgame tennis ball toss; fans can purchase a tennis ball for $1 at the game and try to hit targets located on the field to win prizes.
Saturday’s game will feature a silent auction on the concourse at Smokies Park featuring memorabilia from the Smokies, the Chicago Cubs, and other organizations across major and minor league baseball. Former Smokies Darwin Barney, Andrew Cashner, and Tyler Colvin have all pledged to donate items for the auction.
“It means everything. I don’t think this thing could really work unless the Smokies were to team up with myself and Mick Gillispie,” Wright said about the Smokies contributions and planning for the fund raising. “Just the fact that they want to stand up and help and do their duties as an American citizen and to help out people who are really in trouble really tells a lot about the Smokies organization and what type of people they are.”
The contributions from Wright’s former teammates has also meant a lot to him. Barney, the second baseman for the Cubs, Cashner, a starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres, and Colvin, an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, have all promised memorabilia for the silent auction.
“It’s unbelievable. It speaks volumes about their character,” Wright said of the three Major League players donating to the cause. “When we first came up with this idea, I sent out feeder texts and it couldn’t have been within 10 minutes of response. People were willing to do what they could do.”
The Smokies will announce other ways for fans to donate during the homestand.
“It’s just really refreshing to know that in this time in our country, that when something bad happens, people want to step up and people want to help,” Wright said of the support from the Smokies and others. “And it’s really refreshing to know the Smokies, an organization that not only reflects us as players but the Chicago Cubs, is willing to step up and do whatever it takes to help these people out.”