CHICAGO -- Rangers bullpen coach Andy Hawkins was hunched over his iPad in the clubhouse on Thursday morning, trying to get all the information he could on the fertilizer plant explosion that rocked the town of West, Texas, on Wednesday night.
Hawkins was born in Waco -- just south of West -- and he owns a ranch in Bruceville, which is also in the central Texas area.
"It's just a terrible tragedy ... that place is like 20 minutes away from my ranch," Hawkins said. "I've used that kind of fertilizer, I've sprayed it before on my ranch and there's a place just like that plant near us. It could have happened to us. I know a lot of people are hurt, but people are going to come from all over the place to help."
The northern McLennan County town is known for its Czechoslovakian heritage and the bakeries along I-35 that sell Kolaches and other Czech delicacies.
"I know a lot of people who stop there," Hawkins said. "I know I stop there almost every time I go from Dallas to home. I stop for the Kolaches. I know it's a great place."
Outfielder Lance Berkman is from that area as well. He was born in Waco, grew up in Austin and went to high school in New Braunfels, all along the same I-35 corridor as West.
"It's a tragedy," Berkman said. "You don't like to see anything like that ever happen. It's just a disaster."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.