Indians Welcome Bluffton Baseball Team

CLEVELAND (AP) - Their T-shirts, in the school colors of purple and white, carried the words "We will always remember."

Members of the Bluffton University baseball team were honored by the Cleveland Indians on Saturday at Jacobs Field. Five players from the Ohio college were killed in a March bus accident.

Coach James Grandey, athletic director Phillip Talavinia and 25 of the 31 players on the current Bluffton roster were guests of the Indians before the game against the Minnesota Twins.

"They know why they're here," Grandey said. "And we're very appreciative of the Indians and Major League Baseball for giving us this opportunity."

A bus carrying the Bluffton team crashed on March 2 after it went up a left-lane exit ramp that dead-ends on a bridge over Interstate 75 in Atlanta. The bus went off the overpass, killing five players, the driver and the driver's wife.

Grandey had his right ankle fractured and sustained multiple broken bones in his face.

"I think everybody from that night still finds it hard to ride in a motor vehicle, but we are coming to realize that it was an accident and that accidents happen," Grandey said.

Bluffton is about 150 miles southwest of Cleveland.

Indians manager Eric Wedge, assistant general manager Chris Antonetti and some Cleveland players had lunch with the Bluffton contingent before batting practice.

"It's been a lot of fun meeting those young men," Wedge said. "I tried to explain to them that our ballclub is like a family, too. We have to be strong on tough days and humble on good days.

"We sincerely hope that each and every one of them go on to live fantastic lives."

The players toured Jacobs Field, watched the Indians take batting practice and got autographs and pictures with players.

The team was introduced before the game and received a long standing ovation from fans.

"One thing we have learned through all of this is how everybody in this country communicates through baseball," Grandey said. "We have received thoughts and prayers from all over the nation and we're grateful."