By Corinne Murdock |
No Arizonan with a love for baseball will be hindered from play due to their disability, thanks to the Miracle League of Arizona. The organization ensures accessible playing fields and all necessary accommodations so that nobody will be left out. For ten years, children and adults with disabilities throughout Arizona have experienced the gift of playing baseball through the local branch within a national organization called the Miracle League.
The organization’s slogan captures the heart of their mission to ensure equal access for those who may share the love of the sport with their peers but may not share the same capabilities: “Everyone deserves the chance to play baseball.”
The Scottsdale-based league was established in 2011. They host games on a rubberized, synthetic turf field, with additional amenities around the arena for the whole family: private caregiver rooms, an accessible playground, a picnic area, batting cages, and stadium seats. Each player, or “Miracle Leaguer,” is paired with their own “buddy” volunteer to assist and cheer for them. They also receive walk-up songs and play-by-play commentary to enhance their experience.
After a season concludes, all players receive special awards and gifts to acknowledge their hard work and dedication.
The first Miracle League baseball field opened in 2000. The formal organization was preceded by a grassroots initiative launched by a Georgia baseball coach named Eddie Bagwell in 1998, inspired by the determination and unwavering support of a seven-year-old, wheelchair-bound boy named Michael, who would attend all the games and practices of his five-year-old brother.
“The parents tell stories of their children insisting on playing despite bouts with kidney stones, broken bones, and recent hospitalizations,” read the organization’s website. “The thrill of playing, the cheers from the stands, and the friendships they develop make the Miracle League Field an oasis away from their everyday battles.”
At present, there are over 300 miracle leagues throughout the nation and in Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico.
The next in the lineup of Miracle League of Arizona events will be their 2022 Wiffleball World Series in March. Registration remains open for players; the winter 2022 season is underway currently, and concludes mid-February. The spring 2022 season will begin mid-March and conclude at the end of April.