Plans are underway to form a Miracle League Baseball team in Monett, with organizers hoping to attract players and volunteers from Barry and Lawrence counties.
The initial organizational meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Monett High School. Information will be presented at that time, and players and volunteers hoping to work with the local Miracle League teams are urged to attend that meeting.
The Miracle League Baseball program already exists in Springfield. Amanda Stokes, who is organizing the Monett meeting, said the idea that sparked the initiative to build the specially-turfed Springfield ball park that serves the league came from a friend and co-worker of her father's whose son had muscular dystrophy.
"The boy loved to play baseball and became physically unable to play the sport," Stokes said. "My dad started researching and found the website for the National Miracle League Baseball program. He then presented the idea to the Springfield Park Board and the Northwest Springfield Rotary Club, and they got on board. My dad wrote the grants for funding and got the ball rolling for the park."
Stokes said the Betty and Bobby Allison Miracle League ballfield features special equipment and a cushioned synthetic turf that allows wheelchair-bound players and those with walkers to glide across the ground without fear of injury.
"This is a level playing field where players with disabilities can hit, run, catch and play ball," Stokes said.
Each player is assisted by a "buddy," a volunteer who will pick up ground balls, help a player bat and push or guide the player down the baseline.
"The buddies have to be willing to assist the player in any way necessary," Stokes said. "The goal is to get the kids out there and let them have fun."
|Stokes said each player will bat at least once during each inning of the game. Each player will also score once during each inning and will never be called out on the bases.|
"This is to provide players with a relaxing game of baseball, not a competitive event," Stokes said.
Players over the age of 5 will be placed on teams according to their abilities rather than age.
"I hope we have at least two teams this year, if not three," Stokes said.
Volunteers will also be needed to assist players on the field, giving local students over the age of 12 the opportunity to be involved in the innovative program.
The ballfield in Springfield is located in the Dan Kinney Park at 2701 S. Blackman Road. Local teams will travel to Springfield to play in the league there.
_field, or call Stokes at 417-872-8053.