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Harlingen attempts to bring hurricane-rattled community together with free admission

Hurricane-damaged cage

Hurricane Dolly's 100-mph winds lifted the WhiteWings batting turtle and smashed it to the ground.

By Chuck King

Hurricane Dolly didn’t blow down Harlingen’s ticket office. Still, the WhiteWings won’t have much use for it the rest of the season.

Harlingen is offering the rebuilding community free admission for the final nine games of its independent United League season.

“We’re just doing what we think is right,” Harlingen General Manager Dave Kost said. “Right now, we think people could use an emotional, physical and financial relief from what is going on.”

On July 23, Dolly blasted southern Texas with 100-mph winds and torrential rains. Much of the area is still without power and many streets remain flooded.

Harlingen Field lost both foul polls, many advertisements off the outfield fence, and the rolling batting practice cage during the storm. Harlingen is currently creating makeshift foul poles out of wood. Teams will be unable to take on-field batting practice for the remainder of the season.

Wind also moved a metal bleacher that seats 500 people more than three feet. That section of the ballpark will be closed until its foundation is secured.

Though the 50-year-old ballpark lost power for a few hours, it returned before any of the food spoiled.

“We should be ready to go for tomorrow,” Kost said.

Kost doesn’t have any idea how many residents will take the WhiteWings up on their offer. He does expect many out of town relief workers to drop by the 4,000-seat park.

“So many people are still working to get their life put back together, if we get 1,000 people or 3,000 people, I’ll be happy,” Kost said. “At least we’ll know we gave them a good night.”

The WhiteWings were on the road when Dolly struck. They begin a six-game home stand against Laredo and Alexandria on July 30. Harlingen hosts San Angelo August 12-14 for its final three home games.

“Our job as a minor league team is to be part of the community,” Kost said. “Why not just tell the community to come out to the game for free? At least they won’t have to worry about how to pay the bills or get food.”

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