Western baseball player picks up pieces in Puerto Rico – News-Press Now
Erick Bracero played first base on the Griffon baseball team at Missouri Western State University for four years and graduated in 1995 with a business degree.
He currently lives in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, with his wife and three children, where they’re still recovering from the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria.
“Personally, it’s been the worst experience in my life,” he said. “I have three kids that are from 10 to 13 years old. It’s the first time in their lives experiencing something like this. My wife, Michelle, and myself, we’re doing what we have to — have the poker face to control our emotion, and keep telling them that everything is going to be OK.”
Bracero’s connection to St. Joseph started in 1983 when he played on the Puerto Rico championship team in the Bronco World Series.
Over the years, Bracero has formed lasting relationships with numerous St. Joseph families who were large influences in his development from a young man into the father he is today.
“It gave me that opportunity to not only enjoy playing the sport that I love, get my degree in school but also to have a second home,” Bracero said. “If I ever decided to establish myself and my family in the States, the area of St. Joseph will be my first choice because we have people there that we love.”
Twenty-three days after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Bracero’s island home, his family is still without power and water, and they have limited access to essential items such as cash to buy food and diesel gasoline to power cars and generators. He even has to travel to San Juan to get cellphone service.
“Back to normal is going to take a year, at least,” he said. “What we’re experiencing right now is a good way of learning to not take the basic things in life for granted like a bottle of water, a glass of ice. You have to thank God that you can have those things any time you want.”
Bracero said that one silver lining is that Hurricane Maria has brought people together to give their best. From federal agencies distributing supplies, to neighbors helping each other.
“You don’t get to know your neighborhood until this type of thing happens, and suddenly we know all the neighbors on my street,” he said. “We’ve been playing during the daytime, sports, table games. We’ve been sharing food and power from generators. Last night, I invited my parents, my neighbors, we put on the power generator and we had the opportunity to watch the Cubs game.”
“We’re big fans,” Bracero added. “And we’re doing our best to follow the playoff games right now.”
Those interested in helping Bracero and his family can directly donate to him through his PayPal account at www.paypal.me/ErickBracero.