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Devastation brings Oklahoma and West Virginia closer together

West Virginia ties continue to help Moore recover from May 20 tornado. Through a $200,000 donation of Arizona Diamondbacks owner and WVU alum Ken Kendrick, Mountaineers athletic director Oliver Luck arrived to help local officials decide how to replenish Moore youth baseball.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 15, 2013

MOORE — Randy Mazey grew up in Johnstown, Pa. Yep, home of America's most famous flood, back in 1889, and another epic flood in 1977, when Mazey was 11 years old.

So Mazey, the West Virginia baseball coach, knows a thing or two about devastation.

So do West Virginians.

“We've had mining disasters and floods and all kinds of things that have caused our folks to be willing to help at the drop of a hat,” said West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck.

Which explains how Luck came to be standing in the middle of Buck Thomas Park on Wednesday.

Through the $200,000 donation of Arizona Diamondbacks owner and WVU alum Ken Kendrick, Luck arrived to help local officials decide how to replenish Moore youth baseball.

And the bond between West Virginia and Oklahoma grows even stronger.

The new entry into the Big 12 is separated by 1,000 miles and little history of interaction. But West Virginia is fast making a reputation as a good, if detached, neighbor.

When another killer tornado ripped through Moore on May 20, the West Virginia baseball team was in town for the Big 12 Tournament. Mazey and the Mountaineers made two relief trips; they purchased $4,000 worth of supplies and distributed them at an OU command post the day before their first game, then they visited the devastation and helped a family remove debris the day after the team was eliminated.

“Gollee, they moved a ton of debris,” said Mark Ellerd, whose home was destroyed in the tornado. “Lined the whole front of the house and all the way down the side. I guess they were there about 21/2-3 hours. I never believed we'd get so much removed in that amount of time.”

Kendrick saw footage of the destruction and the Mountaineers' efforts to help, so the native of Bluefield, W.Va., decided to do something himself.

“Ken has followed the program,” Luck said. “So he was A), touched by what our baseball team did. Glad as an alumnus to see the kids get out there and represent the state and the university well. But he also was touched by the devastation.”

So Luck came to Oklahoma on Wednesday and, with the coordination of All Sports Association executive director Tim Brassfield, met with YMCA and city of Moore officials to determine how to spend the $200,000.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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