Josh Fields sat in the Lehigh Valley IronPigs clubhouse on Monday afternoon glued to the TV.
Fields, like many other people around the country, was following the coverage of the tornado that pulverized Oklahoma City suburbs.
The National Weather service said on Tuesday the tornado, which resulted in 24 confirmed deaths according to the state medical examiner’s office, was packing winds between 200 and 210 miles per hour at times, resulting in its EF5 classification — the strongest category of tornado.
“My mom just took a coaching job at Moore High School as the girls basketball coach,” said Fields, the IronPigs starting third baseman. “She was signing her paperwork at the school when the tornado landed down. The little elementary school it hit so bad was about half a mile away.
“It was scary. I didn’t know she was there doing all of her paperwork that day. When I found that out, it became scarier with cell phone service being down, too.”
Thankfully, his parents, Rhonda and Wendall Fields, who were both at the high school, are safe. As are his friends and other family members who live in Oklahoma.
Josh’s wife, Ashleigh, has cousins who were unable to return home due to the debris and damage on the roadways.
“To find out she was in the high school yesterday while I’m sitting there watching CNN seeing everything flattened and stuff like that makes your heart beat faster and your temperature goes up instantly,” said Fields, who was a home run shy of a natural cycle in the IronPigs’ 14-5 win over Rochester on Monday evening. “I talked to my mom yesterday after batting practice. She wasn’t able to use her cell phone for a while but I called and it went through.
“No one in Oklahoma could get a hold of her but I could from up here somehow. It was nice to talk to her. They had a little safe room in the school. I called my other family members and passed on the message they were fine.”
Fields, who was born in Ada, Okla., graduated from Stillwater High School in 2001 and continued his baseball and football careers at Oklahoma State University. He said while growing up, he and his classmates would have approximately four tornado drills per year.
“Everyone gets up, you line up in the hallway, sit down and cover your head,” Fields said. “I was fortunate enough it was only drills; they actually had to do it (Monday) and go through it. I can only imagine; it’s a hopeless feeling sitting in the hallway with your head covered only by your hands.”
Fields said he and his wife, who currently reside in Bradenton, Fla., are trying to figure out different ways they can help those affected by the devastating tornado.
“Me being from there, I want to do something,” he said.
Among his calls on Monday, Fields contacted his grandfather, Roger Kite. Despite the destruction of the deadly twister, Kite remained positive when talking to his grandson.
“I called my grandpa and he told me, ‘Oklahomans are some of the toughest people on the face of the earth because we have to deal with stuff like that all the time,’” Fields said. “He said they’ve always gotten past it somehow and they’ll rebuild and get past this one too.
“…I know this one is going to stick around and hurt for a long time. It’s going to be a while before those people can get back on track and get their lives in order.”