Instead of sleeping in, playing video games or doing something counterproductive Saturday morning, the Denton baseball team chose to do a little yard work.
But when it's the yard of a charity sponsored by Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Vernon Wells, rolling out of bed is a little bit easier.
The Broncos spent the morning raking leaves and helping out around Wells' Perfect 10 Charity facility in Denton. The charity, founded by the outfielder, strives to give single or expectant mothers a place to stay while equipping them with the skills to be successful once they leave the program.
The Broncos aided the charity by providing the manpower to clean the two-house, 2.2-acre lot.
"It takes me by myself almost 2 1/2 days to cut the grass," said Marc Valenti, the charity's chief financial officer and executive director. "If I had to do this raking myself - and I'm not exaggerating - it would take me seven to 10 days."
Wells, a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner, bought pizza for the players and raffled off two baseballs in exchange for their help. Following the raffle, Wells thanked the team, stressing the importance of striving for excellence in sport and in school.
"It was pretty cool seeing him out here, seeing a pro baseball player putting back into the community," senior catcher Steven Natividad said. "It's pretty humbling."
Denton head coach Glen Harrison coached Wells when Harrison was an assistant coach at Arlington Bowie in the mid 1990s. Harrison read an article about Wells in the Denton Record-Chronicle and contacted Valenti - whose daughter Charlene is married to Wells - in November to try to get involved with the charity. Harrison said he and Wells attend Gateway Church in Southlake.
Despite all the fame and accolades Wells has attained over the years, Harrison said he has remained as humble and as classy as he was when he attended Bowie.
"I'm sure there are several of our players that hope to be like him," Harrison said. "He's an outstanding role model, and it was good that our guys had a chance to meet him and see that he's a real person and what his values are and what he believes in outside of baseball."
The move to get the charity started occurred in 2006, when the business plan was crafted. In 2010, Valenti found the current location. To protect the mothers in the house, the address is not listed on the charity's website, vwp10.org.
Barbie Crawford, the charity's resident director, says the program serves mothers ages 18 to 26, and receives residents through referrals.
When the Broncos finished clearing the yard, they assembled a massive pile of leaves to burn, and smoke bellowed into the Denton sky.
"There's no words for it," Crawford said of the team's assistance. "It would take us over a week, spending six to eight hours every day, to get this done. This is an amazing blessing to us."
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.