ALBERTVILLE, Ala. – One thing’s for certain, some of the best rivalries are seen in sports. But sometimes, rivalries aren’t what sports are all about. For the most part, it’s about bringing people from all walks of life together.
That’s what the Miracle League and Snead State’s Baseball team did on Tuesday night at the Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheatre. According to the Park’s website, “The Miracle League provides physically and mentally challenged children a safe and spirited program in which they can hit, run and catch on a baseball field.”
Kids and adults took to the diamond to fulfill their dreams. Even though it was no “Field Of Dreams,” it was indeed, “The Miracle Field.”
The Miracle Field at the park is much smaller in size, tailored to the specific need,s and is even wheelchair accessible. For Tuesday night’s game, though, they got the opportunity to play on the bigger National Field.
Lucas Bruce is a 22-year-old Miracle League player who says he’s been playing baseball for less than a month. “I can hit home runs twice a day and do awesome dance moves,” said Bruce; Tuesday night he did just that. He hit one home run, threw a pitch and of course had awesome dance moves to cap it all off.
Not all players needed assistance, but players who did were paired with a “buddy” from the Snead State’s Baseball Team. Austin Young, one of those buddies, says it’s changed his outlook on baseball.
“These kids…how much joy they can bring you, you don’t realize what some of these kids go through,” said Young. “You bring them out here with a ball and a bat and they get so much joy from it.” The third-year baseball player said when he was asked to volunteer, it was an easy yes.
“It’s a pleasure to be here and this is something you would want your kids to be involved with, it’s something I’ll never forget,” Young said.
Teammate Lawrence Hammonds echoed Young.
“Just…growing up a baseball player, I mean we’ve been playing ball our whole lives but, coming out here on the Miracle League field, we get more out of it than them most likely,” said Hammonds. “It’s just a joy seeing Lucas for example, He’s just always smiling.”
It’s those simple things that are changing the players. “We have long weeks in the fall, so coming here…just picks our mood up and it’s just really special honestly,” Hammonds said.
Tuesday night’s game consisted of a one-inning inner squad game for the Miracle League, a one-inning inner squad game for the Snead Baseball Team, and a Snead Home Run Derby to cap off the evening.
“Days like today don’t happen unless there’s a whole lot of volunteers, we’ve been blessed,” said Mark Coy, emcee for the event.”We’ve had Snead State Baseball with us all season long.”
In the Miracle League, every player plays, every player hits, every player gets on base, every player scores and every player wins–every inning. “That’s the whole point of Miracle League Baseball, everyone gets to play, no one is exempt and anyone, no matter what age, can play,” Coy said.
Coy adds that none of this would have been possible without the help of volunteers: the Snead State Baseball Team and the Sand Mountain Community.
“I can tell you all we hope is that it continues to grow in popularity – for the kids, athletes, the families, because where else can you go where you have two teams play and everybody cheers for everybody? It’s just an amazing atmosphere,” Coy said.
While everyone hit it out of the park, whether they were playing for Snead State or the Miracle League, there was one little girl in particular who not only stole the show, but surprised everyone and impacted Coy.
Becca Butler, who you may remember from her doing the forecast with our own Ben Smith, sang the national anthem and was given a home run ball, hit by Hammonds, left a major impact on Coy.
“She left us after the last game and came back tonight after having surgery and sang again and it really blessed my heart, she’s a warrior like no other, so it was probably her tonight, I didn’t expect to see her and it was a true blessing,” Coy said with tears in his eyes.
One thing is for sure, not one person on or off the field chose sides or was even rooting against the other. Everyone there recognized that through the power of sports and being kind, they were making a difference.
If you would like to know more about the Miracle League, click here.