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A record 194 youth and adult players are signed up to play Miracle League ball this spring, up more than 30 from last year, prompting the addition of six new teams.
But 30-45 more volunteer buddies are still needed to make the spring season a success for players with disabilities.
A total of 14 Miracle League teams will play in the spring league, starting April 17: six youth teams play Mondays, 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.; four adult teams play Wednesdays, 6 and 7 p.m., and another four adult teams play Thursdays, 6 and 7 p.m.
The Miracle League pairs each player with a volunteer buddy to help hit, catch, run bases, cheer and enjoy playing ball. While many new and returning volunteer on-field buddies have signed up for the spring season, several more buddies are needed.
“If we could get 10-15 reliable people for each night, that would be awesome,” said Miracle League Commissioner Cyrus Taylor, adding that the need or more buddies is greatest for the adult teams. “We have over 100 adults signed up to play. It’s a very welcoming group. The adults know the game, and many are big baseball fans. They like to joke around and have a good time. So, for buddies, it’s not as much about teaching as coaching — although there are adult players who can’t play without assistance.”
Buddies must be age 12 or older, enthusiastic, friendly, able to assist players on the field and ready to have a good time. They’re needed for an hour a week. Single-game opportunities are available, but Taylor prefers a three-game commitment — if not the whole seven-week season.
Taylor says the benefits of the buddy system go far beyond the one-hour-per-week commitment.
“You may think it’s not a big deal to spend an hour playing a little baseball, but it’s a very big deal for our players,” said Taylor. “Playing in the Miracle League improves their confidence, it helps their social interactions and verbal skills, and it’s a real win for everyone. Buddies can expect to have a heck of a good time and make a serious impact on someone’s life.”
All games take place at the Betty and Bobby Allison Miracle League Ball Field at Dan Kinney Park, 2701 S. Blackman Road, Springfield. The 1/3-size field has a barrier-free cushioned rubber surface, designed to be safe for walkers, wheelchairs and players with gait issues. The field is fully accessible, as is the adjacent Dan Kinney Park playground.
For more information and volunteer registration forms, visit ParkBoard.org/Miracle_Field or contact Miracle League Commissioner Cyrus Taylor at 417-837-5808 or email Cyrus Taylor.
For media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-874-2943 (desk) or 417-224-5510 (mobile) or email Jenny Edwards.