by Lisa Blackstone
At Sunset Park in Mauldin, South Carolina sits a baseball diamond that at first looks like all the other baseball fields at the park. However, if you get a closer look, you can see that this field is different than all the others. It’s all adapted for wheelchairs and walkers. The field is rubber.
The Miracle League is a baseball league for children, teens and adults with special needs. There are dozens of players from age three and up. Games are held in Spring and Fall seasons and are played on Saturdays. All players get to hit in the two innings that are played. There are no limits on how many strikes one can have. There are no outs. Every player touches home plate. They can have a coach pitch or bat off a tee.
The best part is that each player is paired with a volunteer buddy so that parents can watch their child play baseball; many are watching their child participate in a team sport for the first time. The buddies include anyone from elementary school students to senior citizens. Volunteers are an integral part of Miracle League.
My son with Down syndrome began playing in 2008. A colleague of mine told me about Miracle League and we’ve been involved ever since. My husband proudly coaches the Red Sox team and just happens to be a fan of the Red Sox, but even more, he is a fan of every child being able to play baseball. Our whole family comes out and cheers, takes photos or plays as buddies as needed. My youngest son with Cerebral Palsy began playing for the first time this year.
The environment is so positive with all the cheering and high fives. It’s just an amazing experience and so much fun to be part of. As Miracle League’s motto states, “Every child deserves a chance to play baseball.”
There are currently 250 Miracle Leagues in the United States that serve over 200,000 children. To find a Miracle League close to you, go to http://www.miracleleague.com/.