A League Of Your Own

Dear Addie,

This week we had yet another first in your life’s journey! After years of sitting and not exactly patiently waiting on the sidelines for Clara and Gabe’s countless practices and games, the roles have officially been reversed! Mark it Addie, you’re on your first ever baseball team and Clara & Gabe were happily ready to cheer YOU on from the stands!

Baseball is well known for being America’s favorite pastime. Even the late President Calvin Coolidge went on to declared it to be our countries national game. Pretty cool huh?! Now with that being said, it wasn’t always available for kiddos with disabilities to participate.

You see Addie, in 1997 a Rockdale Youth Baseball Association's coach Eddie Bagwell, watched a 7-year-old in his wheelchair on the sidelines attending without fail and cheering him on at every game and practice for his 5-year-old brother. Seeing his dedication and love for the game, coach Bagwell went on to invite the boy to join his team, being the first disabled child to play baseball.

Knowing there were so many more children that would love to have and even benefit from this opportunity, in 1998, the Rockdale Youth Baseball Association (RYBA) formed the first ever Miracle league to further its mission for all children to play baseball regardless of their ability.  It was here that kids could learn the game while having fun in a safe, caring, non-judgmental environment. There are approximately 250 Miracle League organizations across the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia, serving more than 200,000 children and adults with disabilities worldwide today. Pretty cool right?!

In 2004, after watching a television program about the national Miracle League, local businessmen Robin Rose and Tony Withers felt inspired to establish the Miracle League of the Triangle. Which brings us to where we are today. The goal was simple–provide children with special needs the opportunity to play America’s favorite pastime. Their hope was to have 40 children and at least 100 volunteers for Opening Day.

Their vision came to fruition on September 16, 2006 (my birthday), where The Miracle League of the Triangle opened its first season at Andy’s Foundation Ball Field with more than 100 players and 200 volunteers from throughout the Triangle. Years later and still a wildly successful program, The Triangle Miracle League has now expanded opening an additional field in north Raleigh serving more than 400 players with special needs each season. Keeping with the positive momentum in spring of 2015 they went on to add an Adult League age-group and a competitive camp. 

Now knowing how blessed we are with this opportunity in our local area, and your friend Lil having nothing but amazing things to say about it, we were excited to get out there and play ball!

Let’s do this!

After much anticipation, our first game day had finally arrived! But not so fast Ad, with spring struggling with its arrival the game was canceled due to the weather being too cold and rainy for the players –side note:  I fully supported this decision. Brrrr.

Fast forward 2 weeks the weather was finally perfect and ready for a fresh set of players to take the fields. Miracle League, here we come -Take 2!

Running fashionably late (seriously you looked adorable in your Biscuits jersey – Team “Biscuits”, can you tell we live in the south?!) we made it there with only moments to meet your volunteer and head out to the field. Completely unaware of what was going on, a field of constant movement and this stranger (very, very sweet volunteer) following you around, you became uncomfortable and irritated rather quickly. No worries Ad, insert mommy and daddy taking the field to do our best at diffusing your irritability– happy I wore my running shoes!

Not gonna lie, you were in full-blown MADdie-mode and resorted to sitting in my lap, coping angrily singing Twinkle Twinkle and the ABC’s for a good solid 5 minute. OK, so maybe the Detroit Tigers wouldn’t be recruiting you anytime soon. But we’re not giving up yet! Your name was called, and you were up to bat. Still not happy with this whole gig, you hit the ball in a very appeasing fashion, then we started to run the bases. As I was looking at you run, it happened…You cracked a smile! Hallelujah, I knew you’d love this! We just needed a little time! Yay Addie! Then you started to slow down, and I noticed your eyes were fixated in the stands.  Oh dear, mark it Ad you weren’t smiling at the baseball fun, nope, you spotted a McDonald's bag and immediately thought clearly this stranger has a cheeseburger (or 2) with only ketchup in there for me?!  Hey, at least you were smiling now, even if it was only because of the thought of cheeseburgers.

ML 2.jpeg

Next up The Biscuits were taking the outfield! Here you could work on throwing, catching with your volunteer (or in your case daddy) or just run off some extra energy. Still not 100% happy, but not super angry anymore, you perked up when you saw your friend Lil had arrived for her game that was immediately following yours. At last, something familiar! With a high five through the fence, we headed back to our out fielding. You played catch for a bit and even perfected the art of dribbling a baseball (who knew that was even possible?!) before finally just taking a seat on the ground, emotionally exhausted from this whole new experience.

With the final inning starting your coach came over and sat down with you. She spoke in a very calm and patient manner, seemingly gaining your trust to give batting one more try. Can you say baseball whisperer? Yep, that’s your coach. Your name was called to bat and you walked up together. 

ML 5.jpeg
ML 6.jpeg

Wasting no time, you hit the ball and took off running the bases. Daddy and I laughed as we noticed you still peering into the stands looking for those burgers again. You rounded each base and made it home without any tears this time. Game one in the books!

So, Addie, you started playing baseball for the first time this week. It was new, very different, and a little stressful, but you know what with a lot of encouragement (and the idea of cheeseburgers) you may not have been the next Miguel Cabrera but you kept at it.

We are so proud of you baby girl! Keep it up! You got this!

Go Biscuits!