Wright sets up auction for Texas tornado relief

Hitting coach for Cubs' Myrtle Beach affiliate aided by Rizzo, Sandberg

Wright sets up auction for Texas tornado relief

CHICAGO -- When Ty Wright saw the devastation in East Texas caused by tornadoes last month, he became concerned about whether friends and family were safe. The hitting coach for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, Wright then decided to do something to try to help the people restore their lives.

With the help of his former Minor League teammate, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, plus former coach Ryne Sandberg and ex-teammate Jordy Mercer, Wright has organized an auction to help support the Van Zandt County (Texas) Tornado Relief Fund. There is an online auction that begins Monday and runs through June 3, and a silent auction May 31-June 3 at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Four people were killed and dozens injured when the tornadoes ripped through East Texas near Canton in late April. Wright, 32, is from nearby Tyler, Texas, but he attended high school at Wills Point, near Canton, which was hit hardest.

"It's one of those things where a lot of my friends and their extended families were affected by the tornadoes," Wright said. "I'm really lucky that I played with some of these guys who are in the big leagues and remain friends with them and remain in contact with them, and they're tremendous people."

Wright sent a text message to Rizzo, who was his teammate at Triple-A Iowa. Rizzo answered immediately.

"I don't need to say another word about Rizzo -- he just does so much," Wright said.

Wright also contacted Pirates infielder Mercer, who was his teammate at Oklahoma State. The two went into the OSU Hall of Fame together this past offseason, and Mercer also contributed items for the benefit auction.

"He's another one of those guys who is along the same lines as Rizzo," Wright said. "A lot of their time is dedicated to their organizations, and for them to take five minutes out of their day to do this shows a lot about those guys."

Pelicans general manager Andy Milovich didn't hesitate when Wright asked if Myrtle Beach's staff could help him with the fundraiser.

Among the items available are a game-used bat signed by Rizzo and Kris Bryant, plus baseballs signed by the two as well as Jason Heyward and a number of other Cubs. Sandberg also donated some autographed items. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Van Zandt County Tornado Relief Fund.

Wright, who was originally drafted by the Cubs in the seventh round in 2007, played seven seasons in the Minor League system. This is his first year on the Pelicans' coaching staff.

For more information, go to MyrtleBeachPelicans.com/Auctions.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.