A 9-year-old Oakland Athletics’ fan and a victim of the Northern California fires wrote the following letter to his favorite team in the aftermath of the fire:
“I love watching your A’s games. I want to be an A’s player and I play at Mark West Little League in Santa Rosa. I played baseball in my backyard all day loving the A’s and making up my own game. In my backyard they won six World Series in a row. But my house burned down in the Santa Rosa fire and my saddest things was my baseball collection cards, my 17 jerseys and 10 hats and my baseball from the game and also a ball signed by the whole team and Rickey Henderson and Bob Melvin. My brother and me have so much fun but he is only 9 months old. I am teaching him how to throw balls. I have every single A’s card from 2000 to now but I am 9 years old. I had a major league baseball and it all burned up. So sad. I know you are not all together but hope they get this.”
It is extremely sad and many families have lost as much or more during the NorCal fires. I almost did during the fires in 2015. Thankfully my house, that my fiance and I had lived in for just two weeks at the time of the evacuation, was saved.
Unfortunately, not many others were so lucky and the 2017 Northern California fires have been the same. Reaching out to an organization like the Oakland Athletics was a smart thing to do for a little boy who’d lost what meant most to him in his brief life.
I’m 36 and losing my baseball memorabilia would have hurt me in the exact same way. The same way it would have if I were eight (the last time the A’s won the World Series) or today – a collection that has media credentials that represent some really great times during college, pictures taken with my favorite players, signs I made to take to games when I was 12. You name it, I almost lost it all.
The poor and very brave kid, Loren Jade Smith, had it happen to him. He lost it all and I can understand what it feels like knowing that losing all that you hold dear as a real possibility. I remember wondering about all that I had left at the house that I could potentially lose. It would have been devastating – if I’d been nine years old? Much, much moreso.
And little Loren Smith did lose everything. I wouldn’t have been as brave when I was nine. When I was nine I cried when the A’s were swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series, the thought of losing everything I own didn’t even cross my mind during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and that hit us hard.
So the A’s reached out to Smith, team president Dave Kaval first tweeting out:
— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) October 15, 2017
Thankfully the message Kaval received spread quickly. It was already practically viral and full-on viral it went. The Oakland Athletics official twitter account sent out an address for fans to help by sending in their new and older memorabilia for Smith.
The news of the fires and the still burning aftermath’s rath finally became real news (not that the “president” ever addressed the NorCal fires) and the news reached the East Coast. The Tampa Bay Rays sent a care package out to young Smith.
Not surprisingly, as the true humanitarians that they are known to be, former A’s star reliever Sean Doolittle and his wife Eireann Dolan Doolittle, now of the Washington Nationals, got word and are sending the young fire survivor the memorabilia they have from when Doolittle was an Athletic.
The Oakland Athletics and the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area teams have put forth money to the cause, $450,000 in fact, to support fire disaster relief efforts. They’ve called on fans to assist in these efforts at youcaring.com/firerelief.