Vegas tragedy hits home for players, ex-players

Natives Harper, Bryant, others take to social media to express grief

Vegas tragedy hits home for players, ex-players

On a day when the focus would normally be directed toward baseball only, several Major League players who are preparing for the postseason are instead mourning the aftermath of tragic events that happened in their hometown.

Las Vegas is the home of a slew of superstar ballplayers, a handful of whom will be taking the field this week to begin the playoffs. Their thoughts are elsewhere, however, following a shooting late Sunday evening that claimed the lives of at least 58 people and injured hundreds more.

One of baseball's most well-known players, Nationals outfielder and Las Vegas native Bryce Harper, expressed his grief in a series of tweets on Monday.

"The pride of Vegas runs deep when you are born and raised in such a great town," he tweeted. "I can't fathom the horrific event that has taken place!"

"... My thoughts and prayers go out to the families that have been affected by this and to all the people that have lost their lives way too soon!" Harper continued. "Las Vegas I love you and stand with you."

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who grew up on the opposite side of town from Harper, also took to Twitter to share his reaction.

"Heartbroken to see what has happened in my hometown," Bryant tweeted. "Grateful that my family & friends are safe. Thoughts and prayers to all those affected."

A gunman opened fire Sunday night from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, injuring and killing masses of people who had gathered for the final act of a three-day country music event called the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

Several ballplayers are familiar with that particular event, having attended in recent years. One of those past revelers is Yankees pitcher Chasen Shreve, who grew up in Las Vegas and attended the festival when he was in the Minor Leagues.

Shreve said many of his friends were there on Sunday, and all have checked in as safe and accounted for.

"I haven't digested it yet, I'm just happy that everybody I know is OK," Shreve said. "It's just a tragic thing that happened."

Others with baseball ties were much closer to the tragedy. Bubba Derby, a 23-year-old pitching prospect in the Brewers' system, was in the audience with family members and friends when shots rang out.

Derby sprinted away from the venue with his family and found cover in a "House of Blues" tent. He also helped several terrified onlookers find safety as well.

"There's a ton of people lying on the ground crying, scared," Derby said. "There was a corner that they designated for the wounded. My brother-in-law is a firefighter and used to be an EMT, and you see these people, they ran over and immediately started helping without hesitating. They're grabbing gloves, they're grabbing gauze, bottles of water, they're helping these victims who are facing injuries that they never thought they'd face in their lives, and they're scared. They don't know where their family is. Especially running out of the venue, you see these victims carrying wounded people. It was incredible to see all these people helping each other.

"It was amazing and warming to see these people stay in harm's way to help other people who seemed helpless. They sat there crumpled with fear, and these people went out of their way into the eye of the danger to help. That was incredible. At a time like this, it was refreshing to see in such a negative, negative day."

Brewers' Derby discloses harrowing personal account of tragic event

The son of a Hall of Famer was also at the venue, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Former Minor Leaguer Todd Blyleven, son of Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven, was at the concert and, according to the paper, helped get people out of the venue during the shooting.

"Young girls and guys, older folks. Just people walking out of a country concert with bullet holes," Todd Blyleven told the Pioneer Press. "Everybody was just trying to do whatever they could to get these poor people out of the gunfire."

Bert Blyleven, like many affected by the tragic events, took to Twitter to report his loved ones safe.

As is the case during times of strife, social media serves as a tool for the masses to express myriad emotions, including support, grief and outrage.

In that respect, ballplayers are very much just like everyone else.

"My thoughts and prayers are with our city," tweeted Rangers slugger Joey Gallo, another Las Vegas native. Gallo's tweet included an overview photo of the city, and the words "Pray for Vegas."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.