MLB, MLBPA team up for tornado relief efforts

MLB, MLBPA team up for tornado relief efforts

MLB, MLBPA team up for tornado relief efforts
As a somber search for missing continued Thursday in the devastated city of Joplin, Mo., Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association joined together to pledge an immediate donation of $200,000 toward relief efforts for tornado victims affected by recent storms in the Midwest and Southeast.

The funds from MLB and the MLBPA are being donated to Heart to Heart International, a Kansas City-based humanitarian organization that has been providing technical assistance, volunteer support and necessary resources, including their Mobile Health Clinic, in those disaster areas. The Royals and Cardinals also announced individual plans to help those affected in their home state.

MLB will be encouraging baseball fans to support tornado victims via all its media assets with national television partners, MLB.com and MLB Network. In addition, relief efforts will be promoted with behind-home-plate signage and public service announcements during game broadcasts. The contributions by MLB and the MLBPA are being made in a collaborative effort on behalf of the league, all 30 clubs, players, MLB Network and MLB Advanced Media.

"Major League Baseball is committed to providing assistance to the victims of this horrible tragedy," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "The destruction and damage to these communities are beyond comprehension. We hope our contributions with the Players Association, as well as those from our fans and supporters, will help those affected by this crisis with the emergency assistance they need."

In the Joplin community of about 50,000, at least 125 people perished in the Sunday storm, and more than 900 were injured at last count. Search crews were still looking for victims in the miles of rubble left by the tornado, which packed winds of 200 miles an hour.

In addition, more than 300 tornadoes were spawned by a powerful storm system on April 26-27, wiping out entire towns across a wide swath of the South and killing nearly 400 people. Alabama's state emergency management agency reported the most destruction, followed closely by Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals and families affected by these devastating storms," said MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner. "On behalf of the MLBPA and its members, I thank Major League Baseball and the clubs for joining with us to help provide assistance to those in need. We encourage others to join in this effort."

MLB Network will feature on-air mentions during in-studio programming and signage visibility along the baseline for Heart to Heart International. MLB.com will support relief efforts with editorial coverage, social media outreach and prominently displayed links to Heart to Heart International, where baseball fans can make contributions online to the Heart to Heart International web site.

The Royals and Royals Charities -- the charitable arm of the club -- are supporting local relief efforts for Joplin and Reading, Kan., two areas hit hard by the storms. Royals Charities announced it will donate $35,000 to Heart to Heart, and then the club announced additional support, as Heart to Heart will collect donations of cash and hygiene kits all day Thursday and Friday at Lot M of Kauffman Stadium, to get to the tornado victims.

During the Royals' home series against the Angels on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Red Cross volunteers will accept cash donations from fans. Volunteers will be stationed around the ballpark to collect donations from the assembled fans. The Royals also will announce this week a plan for a portion of ticket sales to go toward tornado relief.

The Cardinals announced that the team, in conjunction with their Double-A Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals, is making a $25,000 donation to Convoy of Hope to assist affected families.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Joplin in the wake of this terrible tragedy," Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III said.

In addition to the donation from the team, the Springfield Cardinals will collect fan donations at the gates before each of their games during this ongoing homestand. The team, which is based a little over an hour away from Joplin along I-44, will make a formal check presentation to representatives of Convoy of Hope prior to Friday night's game. Their fans are being asked to text "CONVOY" to 50555.

"It is times like these that we need to come together as a community," Springfield Cardinals general manager Matt Gifford said. "These are our friends and our neighbors."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. You also can leave comments on his MLB.com Blogs Central community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.