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Corpus Christi Hooks Help Refugio Little League Play Ball

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After Hurricane Harvey made its way through Texas last fall, parts of the state were left pummeled. Eighty-two people died as a result of the two-week storm, and the cost to repair the affected areas was estimated at roughly $125 billon.

The cleanup is still ongoing, and one of the teams in Harvey's path, the Corpus Christi Hooks, is doing what it can to help its community get back on its feet. Through a series of donations and auctions in person at the Hooks' home of Whataburger Field and online, the team raised $113,000 to donate to local groups affected by the hurricane.

Part of that money is going to the Refugio Little League and will guarantee that any child who wants to play baseball this summer will not have to pay registration fees. Normally, registration fees for RLL are $85, but those fees were lowered because of the hurricane to $65 for a family's first player, $55 for its second and $45 for its third.

"It's overwhelming when you look at what our neighbors and Minor League Baseball have done to help those greatly affected by the storm," Hooks general manager Wes Weigle said in a release. "Now is the time to put those funds to good use. We want to lend a hand in making sure kids, who've had their world turned upside down, take the field this spring and summer."

The process, Refugio LL secretary Melissa Linney said, began with conversations between the Hooks and the league to assess their needs.

"We wanted to make sure that the parents who are still recovering from the hurricane, still living with tarps on their roofs—some of them are still not even living in their own homes—that they would not be deterred from playing because of need," Linney explained. "They drew up this idea of covering our fees—the fees that the Little League pays to charter and things like that—but we had already covered that, so we brought back the idea of covering admission fees and they loved it."

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The Hooks' donation will cover roughly 230 players which, based on past estimates, will more than account for every player in the league. Currently, RLL houses 21 teams, but there's room for up to sixteen if enough players sign up.

With the registration fees covered, there's still the matter of playable fields. RLL uses four fields—one of which belongs to a local high school—that they pay to maintain. Those fields, however, were destroyed. The dugouts, press boxes, fences and scoreboards were all gone. Dick's Sporting Goods has helped out by providing items for the league to raffle off. So far, things are going well. The league also has a site active where people across the country can donate to help out.

"We had a company come out and work on our fields, and we're in the process of rebuilding the dugouts," Linney said. "We've got one of the press boxes back up, but we're still working on bleachers and one of the press boxes. And then the big pitch will be for lights. A lot of people think that's a luxury, but for small-town baseball it's definitely not. Between the hours when school gets out and when the sun goes down, it's going to be impossible to play all the games we need to play without lights."

Lights or no lights, Refugio Little League will play ball this season. That's thanks in part to the Corpus Christi Hooks and the funds they donated to give every child in the area a chance.

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