OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — If you think Big 12 baseball matters far less today than it did before 200-mph winds pulverized entire neighborhoods, you’re right.

Kyle Wiggs/MetroNews

West Virginia players delivered relief supplies to an emergency shelter in Norman, Okla., on Tuesday.

If you feel the Big 12 should scrub this week’s baseball tournament out of reverence to the lives shredded by Monday’s tornado, listen to the locals.

They say play ball.

After the OKC suburb of Moore was transformed into mounds of debris by what turned out to be an F5 twister, the Oklahoma City All Sports Association that hosts this tournament canvassed civic leaders for their sentiments on whether baseball should be played in Bricktown.

From Gov. Mary Fallin’s office to Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and various chamber of commerce contacts, the response was uniform and resolute.

“To a man, they told them to proceed,” said WVU deputy director of athletics Mike Parsons.

Parsons, whose flight landed in Oklahoma City just as Monday’s storms sent emergency sirens blaring, was part of Tuesday’s discussion wherein reps from all the Big 12 schools debated what was appropriate, respectful and practical for the coming days.

He said canceling the tournament was a legitimate option, and one that for many observers, instinctively seemed proper. But sending eight baseball teams home and having the Bricktown Ballpark go dark for the week — like an extended moment of silence — would have achieved nothing more than to highlight the somber.

Once the Big 12 contingent became assured that carrying on would in no way hinder recovery efforts, and with locals insisting the tournament move forward, Parsons said the consensus was to postpone the event by a day and reconfigure the format.

With rescue teams unpiling rubble a few miles away, West Virginia coach Randy Mazey agreed with pushing back the start. “We didn’t want to be hitting balls while families were still looking for loved ones,” he said.

Mazey, whose family spent the past six years living inside “tornado alley” while he was an assistant at TCU, seemed particularly impacted. Advised by emergency coordinators that he couldn’t take his players to the storm site to assist with rescue efforts on Monday, the coach instead organized a trip to Wal-Mart where the team filled shopping carts with supplies.

For a guy who loves baseball, he admitted to having “mixed emotions going into this” tournament. Hearing him deflect questions about pitching rotations and how the pool-play format affects WVU, you came away thinking Mazey might have a more difficult time than his players when it comes to compartmentalizing baseball vs. tragedy.

“Should we even play this tournament? My thinking is because it’s a national event we’re in a position where we can help people,” he said. “If we can somehow raise some money through this venue, I’m willing to do whatever.”

And therein lies the validation for salvaging the 2013 Big 12 baseball tournament. With every matchup televised, that’s 13 games of exposure for relief-fund PSAs, and four days’ worth of sticky awareness that this community needs prayers and assistance long after the shocking images of storm demolition cycle off the news

“If we lose all three games we play but are able to help the people locally, that to me is all worth it,” Mazey said. “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s like you’re playing for somebody else now.”

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Comments

  • cutty77

    In today's USA Today in The Sports section at the botton of page 3 their is a piece on The WVU Baseball Team Helping out in The Tornado relief. Great Article

    • JS

      For those of you who want to read it online: Go to www.usatoday.com, click on "sports", click on "more", select "college", and the article is on this page. Great article for our group of fine young men and coaches.

      • cutty77

        Thanks JS for your Help.

  • Chef Camille

    West Virginians know tragedy and how lives are impacted by events outside their control. The comment about Van Zant is not appropriate because it does not relate to this tragedy.

  • scott

    Greg van Zant would never have done anything like what Mazey is doing. Both on and off the field. So glad they finally got GVZ out of there.

  • Tim Gibson Sr

    Apparently Cutty didn't comprehend the article or just looks past the positive. The players & coach offered to help but were turned down through concern for their well being from emergency professionals.They did the next best thing & donated resources & help. The Bible list helps as one of the gifts of God.

    • cutty77

      @Tim Gibson Sr.
      Your right i didn't comprehend the Article.I'm looking at what happened there. In these cases you need ever person to help. With all these Young Strong Men around,they do whatever needed to be done,and what a life changing an learning expierence it would of been. Remember its better to give than recieve. I thinks that maybe in the Bible too. You can't out give anybody in any event.

  • Joe

    I simply cannot express how proud I am Coach Mazey is a Mountaineer. What an incredible role model and mentor for his student athletes.

  • Charleston,WV

    Coach Randy Mazey is a CLASS ACT! We need more people like him in the world. Humbly so, Coach Mazey would likely defer the credit elsewhere. Just one Classy Guy!

  • Helen5844

    My prayers go out to all concerned. It is a blessing to see the teams helping those in need. God bless Oklahoma.

  • cutty77

    I think all the Teams should spend the entire week helping the victims. Remember its Just a Game. What just happened in Okl. showed what life is all about.