WEST, Texas — Until last April, West's claim to fame (besides kolaches) was that it was the home of former Major League Baseball player Scott Podsednik.
"I grew up and played over right by the fertilizer plants," he said as he walked through the outfield of the high school baseball field. His No. 11 is displayed on the left centerfield wall.
But ever since the fertilizer plant blast in April 2013, everyone knows about West.
"It's an opportunity for us to roll our sleeves up, get to work, rebuild not just the structure but the spirit of our town," said Podsednik, who now lives in Colleyville with his family.
From the very beginning, the Texas Rangers have been a part of West's recovery effort. They've donated time, equipment, and money — nearly $200,000 between the team and Major League Baseball.
"Being a professional athlete and the situation that we're in, we do have the ability to help out and change lives," said Rangers relief pitcher Tanner Scheppers.
"I think the Commissioner Bud Selig has always said baseball is a social institution that has a social responsibility," said Jim Sundberg, the team's senior executive vice president.
The Rangers' Winter Caravan included Sundberg, Scheppers, first baseman Mitch Moreland, broadcaster Steve Busby, and former Ranger Kevin Mench. It made a stop in West for the first time since they started doing the annual winter caravan.
"Being from a small town, I definitely know how everything works," said Moreland, who is from Amory, Mississippi. "Your homes, your jobs, your families, your schools are all right there, close together. The special part of it is how these people have bounced back."
"West is a sports town," Podsednik said. "We like our baseball; we love our football; plenty of Texas Rangers fans here in the city. To see these guys come in here with what they're doing, it's special."