Baseball bat, glove and ball on a bench in the dugout

Blog Entry

 

Posted on December 12, 2011 Miracle League Gets a Field of Their Own

As we roll out our new website, we’d like to pause and reflect on where we’ve come from. We’ll gradually post stories that we’ve found scattered across the internet to remember how far we’ve come. We hope you enjoy! This story comes to us from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Miracle League of Manasota board members pose with Marty, mascot for the Bradenton Marauders, during a ground-breaking ceremony for what will be a one-acre rubberized baseball field for children and adults with disabilities at Longwood Park in Sarasota.

The mantra of the Miracle League of Manasota — that “Every child deserves the chance to play baseball” — will become reality in the coming months on a new ball field in Sarasota.

The 14,000 school-age children with special needs in Sarasota and Manatee counties, along with their adult counterparts, will soon have a ball field free of impediments for any kind of mobility device, be they crutches, walkers or wheelchairs. In about two months, they will get a new ball field covered with 2 inches of asphalt, which will be capped with a half-inch of cushioning poured rubber.

The Miracle League held a groundbreaking ceremony for the special ball field Monday morning at Longwood Park, a site chosen because it is underutilized and straddles both counties just south of University Parkway.

Once completed March 1, the field will become one of more than 220 specially surfaced fields designed for handicapped children across the country. The league also builds self-esteem by allowing each player to bat, calling all players safe on the base paths, and allowing each player to score a run no matter what

Phase one of the construction, the surfacing of the field, cost $707,000, Mitchell said. The second phase, which will include handicapped-accessible dugouts, concessions, bleachers, a scoreboard and other amenities, will cost $500,000.

The Sarasota County Commission is working on a contract for construction to Charlotte County contractor Bonness Inc.

Jeffrey Janco, Bonness executive director of sales and construction, said the field is more than just another construction project for his firm.

“We’re very proud to be a part of it,” he said. “They went through a lot of hoops to get it. It’s running smooth. There are no problems.”

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Johnson and catcher Matt Wieters were at Monday’s ceremony.

“Sports was a big part of my life. Now, every child will get a chance to play sport,” Wieters said.

“This is a great cause,” added Johnson. “It’s a perfect fit for these kids.”

Miracle League of Manasota vice president Terry Pennekamp said the new field will give handicapped children something their classmates take for granted.

“The other kids come to school Monday mornings talking about the ball games they’ve played on the weekends. Now, these kids can have that experience,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of special-needs kids. The one comment I hear regularly is that this will give them the opportunity to feel ‘normal.'”

The Miracle League of Sarasota held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for the new field at Longwood Run Park. The field will be a special cushioned rubberized turf that will have a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers for players with special needs.