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Rangers welcome 5,000 responders, residents of West plant explosion

Rangers dedicated Saturday's game against the Astros to the people of West, Texas.

ARLINGTON, Texas – If there was any doubt about which way the citizens of West, Texas leaned when it came to picking their favorite Major League team in Texas, Saturday cleared that up.

    

Approximately 5,000 residents and first responders from West made their way up Interstate 35 Saturday for the City of West Night at Rangers Ballpark.

    

In addition to tickets for the game, the Rangers and other area entities helped to provide some relief for the town which was devastated by an explosion on April 17.

    

Texas designated hitter Lance Berkman donated a fire truck to help replace of the three that was destroyed in the explosion. Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association donated $100,000 for the relief efforts and the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation gave a $40,000 check to the city council. Texas players contributed $27,000 towards the purchase of sports equipment in the city and a $5,000 grant and $5,000 gift card were also sent West's way.

    

All the money and donations to the city are great, but West mayor Tommy Muska believes just having the day away from West may provide just as big a benefit.

    

"It's something that our citizens need," Muska said. "They need normalcy in their lives right now, more than anything. They've gone through 2 ½ months of a nightmare. To have them come out and smile and have some fun is important. It's important to their mental psyche. It's important to come out here and laugh and enjoy America's favorite pastime."

    

While it's been more than two months since the accident, West is still in a recovery mode. There are still people recovering from injuries, including five of the first responders. There have already been 60 houses leveled because damage caused by the blast and another 60 will have to be demolished too.

    

But Rangers Ballpark looked like West north Saturday. In addition to the donations, the West High School Jr. Historian Club Czech Dancers performed on the field. The National Anthem was performed by the Minesterial Choir of West and there was a moment of silence for the 15 people who died in the accident.

    

The Texas players also wore Support West patches on their jerseys. The jerseys will be raffled with the money going towards relief efforts.