Photo courtesy of Alternative Baseball

A baseball team for players with autism and other special needs is recruiting in Cedar Rapids as the national organization Alternative Baseball is fielding its first Iowa team.

The group’s founder, Taylor Duncan, has autism and was left out of sports as a kid. Now, he’s on a mission to get other players like him on the field.

Duncan, who lives in Georgia, says the program is about much more than just baseball.

“By providing them the authentic team experience, you’re basically giving them a simulation of what it’s going to be like when it comes time for them to be hired somewhere, when it’s time for them to go to college,” Duncan says. “All those things are important and it’s best to learn through something you have fun with.”

A self-described baseball purist, the 23-year-old Duncan says the teams play under Major League Rules, with umpires, base-stealing and wooden bats. Since founding Alternative Baseball, he’s organized 25 teams for special needs players across the country.

“It’s just amazing what they can accomplish when given the opportunity,” Duncan says. “It’s not only just teaching the physical skills in the sport, but it’s also teaching them the social skills to be able to go out and maybe hold down a job or learn how to drive or anything else that they want to set their sights towards.”

Duncan is recruiting players, coaches and managers for the Alternative Baseball team in Cedar Rapids. He hopes to get the team organized and on the field this spring.

Thanks to Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio