“Every child deserves a chance to play baseball”—that’s the simple and heartfelt credo of the Miracle League of Manasota, the local branch of a national nonprofit that provides equipment, facilities, organization and support so that children (and more than a few adults) with disabilities can experience the national pastime. And it’s a full experience, too: Umpires, concession stands, a national anthem ceremony and more add richness to the two 10-week seasons per year. Games are played at a custom-built field that was completed in 2012. Young adults (ages 15 and up) serve as volunteer “buddies” to assist players in swinging the bat, fielding and rounding the bases. On Sept. 13, the Miracle League of Manasota will begin its sixth season. The field is located at 6050 Longwood Run Blvd., Sarasota.
Players come from throughout the community, as well as Community Haven and other local agencies. Buddies come from local high schools, churches and IMG. Wheelchair-accessible dugouts and a completely flat surface eliminate barriers to wheelchair-bound and visually impaired players. The cushioned rubberized surface helps prevent injuries. At the end of the season, players get a trophy and goodie bags with donated items—usually including Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates swag. (Both Major League teams are big sponsors.) Players' ages range from 4 years old to a few in their 70s and 80s. “We try to keep age groups similar on each team,” says Dan Tellor, head of operations. “Umpire Russ Larsen (left) has been with the league since Day One,” says Tellor. “He has yet to call a player out.” 250 Miracle League organizations around the world, including Canada and Australia, serve more than 200,000 current players 8 teams / 121 players / 60 buddies per day Participated in the spring 2014 Manasota season Rules of Play Every player bats once each inning. All players are safe. Every player scores a run before the inning is over (last one up gets a home run). Each team and every player wins every game. This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Sarasota Magazine. Click here to subscribe. >>