The Miracle League: A Baseball League for Special Needs
By: Jordan Binkley
MTN Sports Reporter
The fear of being left out is a haunting experience that tugs at the hearts of those who wish to feel unique. A world that idolizes celebrities and professional athletes is a world where many other heroes get overlooked. Imagine a community of heroes that make sacrifices to give light to those who wish to be seen.
Founded in Conyers, Georgia, in April 2000, the Miracle League is a baseball organization that gives children and people with disabilities the opportunity to make friendships and enjoy a sport they love.
By 2002, the league opened parks across the United States and eventually opened fields in Canada and Puerto Rico. Currently, there are over 240 Miracle League parks that host over 200,000 players.
The Miracle league's thesis is knocking down barriers that prevent children and adults with disabilities from playing baseball by giving them friendships and an experience they will cherish forever.
"My favorite part is knowing that we are making a difference in someone's life, and the work is so much more than just a paycheck," Thomas Laird, an assistant director of the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department, said. "We are helping better the community and building a culture that will help generations to come."
In 2017, Murfreesboro native and former MLB Cy Young winner David Price decided that his hometown needed to open a Miracle League of its own.
"When he was playing for the Rays, down in Tampa, they had to do volunteer work, and they sent them out to the Miracle Field in Tampa," said Murfreesboro Miracle League Director Angie Keating. "He came home to his mom, who is a special needs teacher, and was like, 'We need one of those in Murfreesboro.'"
Through Price's Project One Four Foundation, he initially donated around $300,000 to start the league. After meeting with Mayor Shane McFarland, Project One Four received permission to open the Miracle League in Murfreesboro, and the city donated the land for the fields.
Price has attended games as an honorary pitcher in years past, spending hours signing autographs for the children. It was not uncommon to see Price helping the players swing and giving them words of encouragement. Price's parents often attend games, and Price even helps the children through them.
"I had a boy that was having some trouble overcoming the idea of getting out on the field, so David spoke to him [over FaceTime]," Keating said. "[David's dad] was like, 'Do you want to talk to a friend of mine real fast?' So, David convinced him to go out and play for the day. It's neat to have experiences like that for our players."
The Miracle League also thrives off its community involvement; many of the coaches in the organization are local police officers, MTSU students, and high school athletes that want to leave a positive impact on the children.
One of the coaches, Joseph Crismon, is an MTSU student who works as an equipment manager for his university's football team. Being a coach in the league is meaningful to Crismon as he has overcome similar hurdles to his players.
"I am an adult with special needs, so to be out here with kids with special needs and helping them achieve things that people thought I wouldn't achieve brings something else to my heart," Crismon said. "Helping them achieve something that people constantly tell you that can't really helps them out and helps me out because I know I am doing something special for them."
Speaking of community involvement, the Miracle League also hosts events bringing in local first responders so the children can meet heroes within the community. The event allows the players to speak with firefighters, see firetrucks, and meet with local K-9 units.
"We have our first responders' days every season just because I like the idea of all my players seeing those guys in their uniforms," said Keating. "[It's important] so that if there ever is an incident where those people are coming into their house, ... they realize that those are friends and not somebody to be scared of."
The league's structure consists of two innings where each child gets a chance to bat. No score is tracked; however, in the future, the Miracle League plans to add a competitive league as well as a division for children and adults.
This September, the Miracle League's Murfreesboro location will showcase a nationwide All-Star event for their players. The event will run from Sept. 16-18 in Murfreesboro, hosting over 600 people across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
For those wishing to sign their child up for the league, the next season will take place in the fall of 2022. Check out the Miracle Field of Murfreesboro's Facebook page for more information.
"About." The Miracle League -, https://www.miracleleague.com/about-2/.
"Miracle Field." Miracle Field | Murfreesboro, TN - Official Website, http://tn-