ARLINGTON — Cars were parked in every conceivable makeshift parking spot for a handful of blocks in all directions around the Refuge Church in Fort Worth on Saturday, leaving precious few openings to find a place to situate your vehicle. And once you did find a spot, a bit of a walk was required to reach the church.
But for the people who were able to make it, they were treated to Refuge’s Back to School Block Party, which partnered with the Robinson Chirinos and Martin Perez Foundations to give back to the community. Chirinos’ Foundation has been involved for the last four years, and Perez’s Foundation partnered with the Church for the first time this year.
A live band, hot dogs and tacos, a fire truck from the Fort Worth Fire Department and even a rock-climbing wall were present in the church’s parking lot. But the main attraction was waiting inside, where Chirinos, Perez and some other members of the Rangers distributed over 1,500 backpacks to local kids who are gearing up for their return to school.
“I think that not only as a baseball player but also as a person, this is what we really need to be doing — serving the community,” Chirinos said. “I think the time we can … help the community, that’s what we’re doing here today. Giving backpacks, but also just giving your time and also trying to help people in need is something not only us — we — need to do, but everybody that can, that’s the responsibility we have here in the world.”
Chirinos and Perez were joined by Rangers teammates Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Alex Claudio and Andrew Cashner, as well as coaches Tony Beasley, Hector Ortiz and Justin Mashore.
A Major League Baseball player’s schedule can be hectic, to say the least, but Perez said the chance to take even just a few hours out of their day to give back to the community and see the joy in the faces of the kids when they received a backpack made it all worth it.
“It’s not because of the backpacks,” he said. “We don’t [just] want the people to say, ‘Robinson and Martin, they’re good people.’ We’re doing it because I think God tells us to do it. We don’t want anything back. We just want to give the kids a different day, watch the kids have a big smile, and that’s good for us.”
And as Chirinos said, it provides a way for people to see that going out and spending time with people who might be in a tough spot or having trouble means the world to them, and that everyone should aim to do that when they can.
“I think it’s something that everybody should do,” he said. “As a baseball player, we always say our schedule is so busy, but we can find time. You don’t have to go somewhere and spend five hours. We’re coming here today for only an hour and a half, and we’re going to bless a lot of people here. You can go somewhere and be there 10 minutes and help somebody. There’s nobody too busy to give 10 minutes, 20 minutes or half an hour of their time during the day to go and help somebody.”
Sam Butler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arlington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
NEW YORK — When the Rangers travel to Oakland for a three-game series against the Athletics from Aug. 25-27, the names on the back of some players’ jerseys may seem a tad odd or unfamiliar — and it won’t be because the players will be different.
Instead, MLB players will have the chance to place their nickname on their jersey rather than their last name as part of Players Weekend, MLB and the MLB Players Association announced Wednesday.