“The Miracle League” is a charitable organization that provides children with disabilities an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league. There is something about playing the game of baseball that lights up youngsters’ eyes, but for those with disabilities, that opportunity can often be a difficult first step. The Miracle League gives these individuals the opportunity to get out in the sunshine, and enjoy playing the game of baseball in its purest form.
Dylan can’t walk but that doesn’t stop him from rounding second base. Jennifer has Down’s syndrome, but the Miracle League has given her more self-esteem than her parents ever dreamed possible. Kaliegh can’t hear, but the cheers of his teammates have never been louder. The Miracle League gives hundreds of individuals something few dreamed possible, the chance to play baseball. Yet in all their joy and triumph, there’s still one thing missing – the ability to play the sport like everyone else.
These kids needed a place to play, so a specially equipped field called the “Field of Dreams” was built in Conyers Georgia. This custom-designed venue incorporates a cushioned synthetic turf that accommodates wheelchairs and other walking assistance devices, while helping prevent injuries. In other words, it provides a level-playing field where individuals with disabilities can hit, run, and catch- just like the best of them.
During each Miracle League game, every player is given an opportunity to hit the ball and score a run. Miracle League team members are assigned “buddies” who assist them in hitting the ball and “running” the bases. Buddies can be fellow schoolmates, parents, college students, business leaders or anyone who wishes to volunteer their time to give a child the gift of baseball
The idea of building specially equipped baseball fields was born in Georgia when a boy in a wheelchair showed up to play in a youth baseball program. One of the coaches took the boy as a member of his team. After that, Georgia’s Rockdale Youth Baseball Association organized games for 35 players with special needs. Soon it became evident that, while the idea was extremely well received by the children and their families, conventional baseball fields were inadequate for children with disabilities.
The grassy turf was very difficult for their wheelchairs, walkers and braces to navigate, and bumps and irregular surface made moving around awkward and dangerous. This spawned the idea to build a field with a special surface that was safe and easy to navigate for those with disabilities. A field was designed with a custom synthetic turf and handicapped accessible dugouts, restrooms and drinking fountains. This was the beginning of what is now called The Miracle League.
Children with physical and intellectual challenges are paired with “able-bodied” volunteer “buddies” who assist them in batting, catching, throwing and running. Every player gets a turn at bat and in the outfield, and every child gets across home plate. The
point of the game is less about baseball and more about fun! The benefits gained by everyone involved are tremendous. The child’s self-esteem grows, they make friends, become less isolated and “just become a regular kid, not a kid with a disability.”
The Miracle League of Michigan is now a program of Easterseals Michigan.