A new baseball league for children with disabilities in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska is about ready to debut. Bruce Froendt, spokesman for the Allplay Foundation, says Miracle Baseball League will start at the end of this month.
Froendt says, "It gives children who might not otherwise have a chance to play in the various leagues around town to experience baseball."
The new league will play on a new "barrier-free" $1.5-million field just south of Omaha. He says any child with any impairment can play on the new league. "Autism, Down’s syndrome, spinal cord injuries, various birth defects, visual impairment," he says. "The children can be in wheelchairs, they can be using walkers or crutches or braces."
Unlike other Little League-type games, Froendt says there is no emphasis on competition. "Every child is going to get a uniform and be placed on a team," he says. "They will get up and whether they hit the ball off a tee or whether they are able to hit it from a coach pitch, they’re going to take off to first (base)."
There’s an old adage that applies here, he says, about it not being whether you win or lose but how you play the game. "Every kid is safe at every base and every kid scores at every inning," Froendt. "At the end of the game, every game is tied so both teams win. It is to get the kids outside and do the things that they see their brothers, sisters and friends do all the time."
They’ll play eight summer league games and seven more in the fall at the new field at Seymour Smith Park in Ralston, Nebraska. The field is barrier-free — with a rubber surface — so if a child falls, he or she won’t be seriously hurt. It’s especially useful for children in wheelchairs or those with poor vision. Registration is underway for players and for buddies who will help the players throw the ball or help them bat.