Miracle League History
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 brother play America's favorite past time.
In 1998, the Rockdale Youth Baseball Association (RYBA) formed the Miracle league to further its mission for all children to play baseball regardless of their ability. Disabled children in our community had expressed the desire to dress in uniforms, make plays in the field, and round the bases just like their healthy peers. The league began with 35players on four teams.
The main concern was that Miracle League teams played on the same grass fields as the RYBA teams, presenting potential safety hazards for players in wheelchairs or walkers.
The Rotary Clubs of Rockdale County and Conyers, Georgia stepped forward to form the Rotary Miracle League Fund, Inc. as separate 501 (c)3 organization. The new organization had two objectives: (1) Raise 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 Schuerholz, 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 prevent injuries, wheelchair accessible dugouts, and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers to wheelchair bound or visually impaired players. In addition, accessible restrooms, a concession stand, and a picnic pavilion were included in the design. The Miracle League complex was completed in April 2000.
On opening day, the Miracle League rosters 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 spring of 2001 over 250 players filled the Miracle League rosters. The Parents tell stories of their children insisting on playing despite the bouts with kidney stones, broken bones, and recent hospitalizations. 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.
"Buddies" assist most Miracle League players. These buddies are mainstream children who play baseball on RYBA teams. As a result, the parents, children, and volunteers are all brought together - special needs and mainstream alike in a program that serves them all through service to children with special needs. The program is open to children from any community and until December 1, 2001 was one of a kind.
"Every Child Deserves A Chance to Play Baseball"
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