Fans and teams work together to replace lost collection
Over 5,700 homes and structures have been destroyed so far in the wildfires that are sweeping through Northern California. One of those homes belonged to the family of 9-year-old Loren Jade Smith’s, a major league baseball fan whose collection of cards, jerseys, hats, and signed balls went up in the Santa Rose flames. But after a local reporter posted Loren’s story on Twitter, fans and teams from across the country responded to try to fill this one hole in a little boy’s life.
On Saturday, local ABC 7 reporter Katie Utehs tweeted an image of a letter Loren wrote to his favorite team, the Oakland Athletics:
— Katie Utehs (@KatieUtehs) October 15, 2017
“To the Oakland A’s:
I love watching your A’s games. I want to be an A’s player and I play at Mark West Little League in Santa Rosa. I played baseball in my backyard all day loving the A’s and making up my own game. In my backyard they won six World Series in a row. But my house burned down in the Santa Rosa fire and my saddest things was my baseball collection cards, my 17 jerseys and 10 hats and my baseball from the game and also a ball signed by the whole team and Rickey Henderson and Bob Melvin. My brother and me have so much fun but he is only 9 months old. I am teaching him how to throw balls. I have every single A’s card from 2000 to now but I am 9-years-old. I had a major league baseball and it all burned up. So sad. I know you are not all together but hope they get this.
The next day, fellow ABC 7 reporter Melanie Woodrow followed up with Loren, who read her his letter and did an outstanding impression of an Athletics’ announcer:
— Melanie Woodrow (@MelanieWoodrow) October 16, 2017
The images of this young boy standing in his front of his burnt-down neighborhood, talking about his love for baseball, touched hearts everywhere. As Loren’s dad, Tait Smith, told local ABC affiliate KGO: “It breaks my heart just that he is not going to be back here [in the yard] screaming and yelling home runs that he hit over the fence with the whiffle ball to the neighbors.”
After the story was published locally, Athletics’ fans started contacting the reporters, offering to help Loren:
I’ve got tons of cards from every team. Willing to send my A’s cards this kids way.
— Tribe No Matter What (@Davidfromthe216) October 16, 2017
My son has boxes & boxes of As cards & would love to bring them to him,we are in SoBay, please connect me with parents
— Sparkly Flitter (@nancyann1968) October 15, 2017
I’ve got A’s bobbleheads and other giveaways he’d be welcome to add to his new collection!
— The Fig (@j_maxwell) October 15, 2017
Please DM me, I have a great @DALLASBRADEN209 signed pic and ticket from his perfect game, would love to send
— Anthony Johnson (@AJohnson4949) October 15, 2017
The A’s came through for their biggest fan as well, with the team president tweeting his support and the organization putting together a donation drive to replace his lost memorabilia:
— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) October 15, 2017
If you’d like to donate baseball memorabilia to our pal Loren, please send items to the address below and we’ll make sure they get to him. pic.twitter.com/xI3ZwWWfNA
— A’s, But Spooky 🌳🐘🎃 (@Athletics) October 16, 2017
Soon, the Topps baseball card company, major league players, and other major league teams were getting involved and putting together their own care packages for Loren:
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 16, 2017
can you send us info on how we can help
— Topps Company (@Topps) October 15, 2017
Heading up tomorrow to Santa Rosa and would love to give this little boy a signed bat. Where can I drop off? https://t.co/jvFc2ioVbU
— Kevin Youkilis (@KYouk_2036) October 16, 2017
Baseball is family. We have your back, Loren. The package is on its way! pic.twitter.com/vALO3tiBlM
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 16, 2017
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 16, 2017
📬 Just dropped all of this in the mail for you, Loren! 👍 pic.twitter.com/fKmcZf6voC
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 16, 2017
What people are ready to do to try to make this little boy smile is outstanding. No, these donations won’t help Loren and his family get a new house or replace their other important belongings, but what they will do is give a little boy who has lost everything some joy. Let the adults worry about all the other stuff and let’s help kids like Loren — who have suffered a loss greater than many of us can imagine — go back to being kids again.
(h/t SB Nation)