It began as an idea back in 1997and it is now a mission statement: “Every Child Deserves a Chance to Play Baseball.”
The Miracle League is exactly what the name implies, an organization whose only charge is to give kids with disabilities an opportunity to do what every other child has a chance to do and that is step on to a baseball diamond and participate in the National Pastime. No longer do they have to sit on the sidelines and watch, these youngsters are now able to hit and run the bases.
Saturday morning was yet another opening day for the Miracle League in St. Petersburg and the sights and sounds coming from Violets Field on a little corner of the Azalea Little League field just off Tyrone Boulevard can touch even the hardest of hearts.
The guiding force behind this endeavor is the Kiwanis Club of Gulf Beaches plus the many volunteers called Angels in the Outfield, their tee shirts emblazoned with the words, “Dreams really DO come true.” Whether it’s the spring or fall opener, you can count on a variety of guests to come out for the special day.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, didn’t know what to expect but came away with a greater understanding of what takes place in his city. Pinellas County Commissioner John Marroney, decked out in a Tampa Bay Rays’ jersey, has been a long-time friend of the Miracle League and was instrumental in getting the Kiwanis the grant to get Violets Field built, joined Foster in the first pitch ceremony. A member of the Clearwater Threshers baseball club, Brian Gump, was there for the first time and was blown away by what he saw.
“This is remarkable,” Gump said. “The kids are out here having a great time and to see the look on their face when they get a base hit is priceless.” The right fielder will be part of the Phillies minor leavgue spring training set to open on March 3rd.
Also in attendance was former long-time WDAE sports update voice Whitney Johnson who was let go in a Clear Channel cost cutting move. He took one of the Miracle League kids, Jacob, under his wing and continues to help him overcome some obstacles.
Because the Miracle League is a non-profit organization they depend on donations for upkeep on the field, painting and other necessary items. If you are interested in helping the Kiwanis Club of Gulf Beaches in this worthwhile undertaking, please contact George Stone at 727.278.7846 or email him at [email protected]. Their website is www.miracleleaguegulfbeaches.com
For more information on the Miracle League visit their website at www.miracleleague.com