By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the drama in Boston surrounding the capture of those responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombing unfolded, there was another tragedy in West, Texas.
An explosion at a fertilizer plant in the Texas town so far has a death toll of 15, with many more injured. Homes and businesses were destroyed, and a town shaken to its core.
To help raise money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes called on an Ocean City, NJ. bat maker to do something special. Gregg Balin, owner of Victus Sports, makes bats for MLB players. Balin told the Press Of Atlantic City that custom bats normally take seven to ten days to deliver to a customer. But when Gomes called with his request, Balin made sure to rush delivery.
“We stopped what we were doing and all emphasis went into getting that done and getting to FedEx to get them out. He called Friday. We shipped Friday at 5 p.m. He got the bats Saturday at 10 a.m. They were in his hands in 16 to 18 hours,” Balin told the Press of AC.
Gomes ordered bats with “Boston Strong” inscribed on them, as well as the names of the three bombing victims, and the MIT police officer who was shot while trying to apprehend the suspects. Those bats were signed by the entire Red Sox team, and auctioned off to benefit the victims. In addition to the auction, Major League Baseball contributed $500,000 to the cause, and the Red Sox another $100,000.
Now, the Phillies’ Laynce Nix is doing the same for West, Texas. Nix is from Houston, which is just a three-hour drive from West. Nix made the call to Balin, and expects the bats to arrive on Wednesday or Thursday.
“It hits close to home to me,” Nix told 94WIP’s Rob Ellis on Tuesday. “It’s just an unfortunate event really. It’s fortunate it’s not a terrorist event, it’s a different sort of thing. But it’s tragic all the same.”
Many of the confirmed fatalities of the explosion were first-responders, including five local firefighters. President Obama has promised federal aid for the town as well.
“If we can get some money for charity, and get some of these bats signed we should make it happen,” Nix said. “Hopefully just bring some awareness to that area and bring help there because they need it.”
Nix says he’s just begun using bats from Balin. “I like them so far,” he said.