With Charleston (S.C.) residents mourning the loss of nine lives after a gunman attacked churchgoers at historic Emanuel AME Church, the Charleston RiverDogs (Low Class A; Sally League) will go ahead and play tonight, with proceeds going to charity.
Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested today in Shelby, N.C., for allegedly shooting nine churchgoers at the downtown Emanuel AME church — also known as Mother Emanuel — and his actions were quickly defined by police as a hate crime.
Following consultation with city officials, the team has announced that their regularly-scheduled games at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park will continue as scheduled starting tonight (Thursday) at 7:05 p.m. against the West Virginia Power. The RiverDogs continue to work with Mayor Joseph Riley, local law enforcement agencies and leaders of the church. They have determined that proceeds from tonight’s game will go into the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, which was established by the city in the wake of this tragedy.
“We all personally feel the grief of the horrifying tragedy that struck our community last night,” said RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols said in a press statement. “Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims involved and with the law enforcement agencies working tirelessly in the wake of last night’s appalling and shocking event.
“We feel it is our duty not to let the acts of one radical human being dictate our lives,” he added. “The RiverDogs will continue on as scheduled in hopes of providing a sense of normalcy and comfort to the Lowcountry. We understand the donation is a small gesture during this terrible time; one for the families of the victims, the church family, and the entire community.”
As stated in the press release:
Sports can serve as a necessary distraction in the days following tragic occurrences. In the wake of such tragic events like the Boston Marathon bombings and 9/11, sports, particularly baseball, brought communities and a nation together and helped to resurrect them in times of need. It is understood that sports take a back seat during times of tragedy. It’s very hard to think about something as trivial as playing a game, when disastrous events that once seemed impossible become all too real. However, sports often return to cities affected by tragedy long before reality does.
Prior to Thursday’s game will be a moment of silence to remember the victims of this unspeakable tragedy. In addition to the remembrance of this week’s tragic events, the RiverDogs will continue to honor the “Charleston 9,” the nine firefighters who lost their lives on this date in 2007, with a bell ringing and moment of silence prior to the ballgame.