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SORROW AND HOPE
LARS ANDERSON
January 19, 2012
AFTER THE DEVASTATING TORNADO THAT TORE THROUGH TUSCALOOSA, ATHLETES DID THEIR PART TO TRY TO LIFT THE TOWN THAT HAS ALWAYS LOVED THEM
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January 19, 2012

Sorrow And Hope

AFTER THE DEVASTATING TORNADO THAT TORE THROUGH TUSCALOOSA, ATHLETES DID THEIR PART TO TRY TO LIFT THE TOWN THAT HAS ALWAYS LOVED THEM

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For 30 seconds mud sprayed everywhere, even flying into the bathtub and covering the two players. "This could be it for us," Rosecrans said. "If we go out, we go out together."

Then, a few seconds later ... silence. Rosecrans poked his head out: Their house had crumbled—the only walls left were those of the bathroom they were in—and Rosecrans could see the sky. "Oh, my God," Rosecrans said. "Everything is gone."

The two lifted themselves out of the bathtub—the Biblical passage was still taped to the mirror—and ran through their pulverized neighborhood, checking to see if anyone was injured. They heard a male voice shout, "I'm over here." The players sprinted to the voice and for several minutes pulled wood and debris from a shattered house. They reached their neighbor; he was drenched in blood from a head wound. They rushed him to a nurse who was in the area; she took the man to a hospital, where he survived.

The next day Rosecrans and Kennedy walked to the house of teammate Jon Kelton, who lived less than two miles away. Several oak trees more than 150 years old and 70 feet tall were strewn across his yard, but Kelton was uninjured. As the hours passed, more baseball players arrived at Kelton's damaged house, all helping to remove debris.

Three other towering oaks had fallen on the house across the street, killing the three students inside. With nearly the entire Alabama baseball team standing in Kelton's yard, the family of a female victim arrived.

Kelton approached. "Is there anything we can help you find in the house?" he asked.

"There is a white dress," the mother, choking back tears, told Kelton. "We'd like to bury her in it. Could you help us find it?"

The 15 baseball players formed a line that stretched from the remains of the house to the street, picking up garments, books—anything salvageable—and then handing it down the line and giving it to the parents. Minutes later Nathan Kilcrease, a pitcher, pulled out the white dress. He gave it to the woman's mother.

"Thank you so much," she said, tears running down her cheek. "Thank you."

"I wish I could have gone my entire life without having to do something like that," Kilcrease said as he sat in the players' lounge at Sewell-Thomas Stadium weeks later. "But all we want to do is help. And maybe through baseball we can put a smile, if only for a few hours, on people's faces and make them forget the heartache."

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