Yanks donate $1 million to Katrina relief
Team duplicates amount contributed to tsunami cause
SEATTLE -- With the Gulf Coast reeling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Yankees made a sizeable donation on Wednesday to assist with relief efforts.
"The New York Yankees, in heeding the President's call to help the people devastated by this hurricane in the affected areas, are going to donate $1 million to the relief effort," said owner George Steinbrenner in a statement. "This is one of America's greatest natural disasters and tragedies and it is the responsibility of the American public to step up and help those in need."
This is the second donation of $1 million that the Yankees have made to aid victims of a natural disaster this year, as the club made the same gesture in April following the tsunami in Asia.
Gulfport, Miss., one of the areas hit hardest by Katrina, is the hometown of outfielder Matt Lawton. His parents, as well as about a half-dozen of his other family members, have been riding out the storm in his home, though it suffered about $200,000 in damage. Lawton said that the roof and floors will need to be replaced, as will some walls in the house.
"That type of stuff, I'm not really worried about it," Lawton said. "My main concern is trying to get my mom and dad out of there. The next few days aren't going to be much fun."
Wednesday, he spoke to his mother, Lynette, for the first time since last weekend, and she assured him that everyone was OK. His home is without electricity and gas, leaving just snack food for his family to live on.
In addition, the lack of open gas stations has limited his family's ability to leave the area, where temperatures are registering in the 90s.
"It's so hot down there now, and there's no ice, no water," Lawton said. "The generator ran out of gas, so that's another problem now because the house is shut down. They don't have enough gas to drive anywhere, either. It's been one thing after another."
Lawton's wife and children are still in Chicago, and they will join Lawton in New York next week when the team returns home. Lawton said he will try to get a charter plane to Gulfport to bring the rest of his family up north, though the area airports remain closed.
When told of the Yankees' donation, Lawton seemed touched by the gesture.
"There are so many people there who are going to be in need of some sort of help," Lawton said. "Mr. Steinbrenner, I definitely want to thank him for helping. The people are going to be very appreciative."
Lawton wasn't the only member of the Yankees with relatives caught in the hurricane, as the niece and nephew of manager Joe Torre were vacationing in New Orleans when the storm hit.
Torre said that they were able to take a bus to Houston on Tuesday, then fly home to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
"It's really devastating; I don't know what other word to use," Torre said. "You watch it on TV on every station, read about it in the newspaper, and there's no immediate help for anybody. You'd certainly like to be able to do something. It's very sad for these people."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.