How is the Miracle League baseball field different from a regular youth field? Baseball diamonds weren’t exactly designed with wheelchairs, crutches and visual impairments in mind.
Our Miracle League field is made of a recycled tire product in a tile form that is designed to prevent injuries, that will also accommodate both wheelchairs, walkers and other devices to assist in walking that our players use.
It also allow sufficient cushioning to aid in injury prevention when the children fall. The field and dugout is barrier free and completely flat.
Any person 4 years and older with a diagnosis. Our spectrum includes kids that are very high functioning, autistic, to the child who is blind and deaf needing 24/7 care and in a wheelchair. We have never had a child unable to be successful at our field.
The design is all about their needs being met. All kids start in the “Original” league and may stay there for their whole baseball career, while others may move to the Competitive or Adult league. We also have an Adult League for those over 19 years old. The field is barrier free and allows the greatest confidence building environment for everyone involved.
In 1997 Rockdale Youth Baseball Association’s coach, Eddie Bagwell, invited the first disabled child to play baseball on his team; watching this 7 year old in his wheelchair attending every game and practice while cheering on his 5 year old brothers play American’s favorite pastime.
In 1998, The Rockdale Youth Baseball Association (RYBA) formed the Miracle League to further its mission of providing opportunities for all children to play baseball regardless of the ability. Disabled children in our community had expressed the desire to dress in uniform, make plays in the field, and round the bases just like their typical peers. The league began with 35 players on four teams.
There were no programs for the Miracle League to copy. It was decided that:
The main concern was that the Miracle League teams played on the same grass field as the RYBA teams, presenting potential safety hazards for players in wheelchairs or walkers.
It is spring, 1999 season; the Miracle League gained support and became a source of pride for all involved as participation grew to over 80 players. During the season the magnitude of the need for such a program was recognized. It was learned that there are over 79,000 children in Metro Atlanta who are disabled to a degree that keeps then for participating in team sports, that is when the dream of building a unique baseball complex for these special children was conceived.
The Rotary Clubs of Rockdale County and Conyers stepped forward to form the Rotary Miracle League Fund, Inc. a separate 501(c)3 organization. The new organization had two objectives: (1) raise the funds necessary to build a special complex with facilities that meet the unique needs of the Miracle League players, and (2) assist in the outreach efforts for the Miracle League. Mr. John Schuerhotz, the General Manager of the Atlanta Braves, agreed to serve as the Honorary Chairman and lent his resources to promote the Miracle League throughout the Metropolitan Atlanta area.
With the help of community volunteers and companies, the design and construction of the first Miracle League complex was underway. The complex would include a custom-designed field with a cushioned synthetic turf to help prevent injuries, wheelchair accessible dugouts, and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers to wheelchairs bound or visually impaired players. The design also included three grass fields, which could be converted to the synthetic turf as the league grew. In addition, accessible restrooms, a concession stand, and picnic pavilion were included in the design. The Miracle league complex was completed in April 2000.
On opening day, the Miracle League roster had grown to over 100 players. The players raced around the bases and chatted with their teammates in the dugouts as they celebrated. Nicholas Slade, a player who had been in a coma just a week before, threw out the first ball.
The players’ enthusiasm has continued to grow. By the spring of 2001 over 250 players filled the Miracle League roster.
In the spring of 2005, the Little Rock Rotary Club 99 and KIDSource KIDS, made a commitment to bring a Miracle League field and program to central Arkansas. The Little Rock Rotary filed for our 501(c)3 statis and has worked very diligently to raise the funding to build the Miracle League field which will be located at the Junior Deputy Fields on Cantrell Rd. KIDSource KIDS and many volunteers have team up with the Rotary to bring this valuable program to our area. Our local openingcelebration is slated for fall of 2006. In 2009 the Rotary Club 2449 in Springdale, Arkansas decided to bring the Miracle League to NWA. In the fall of 2010 two fields and a play area was completed in time for a fall baseball season.