In 1997 Rockdale Youth Baseball Association’s coach, Eddie Bagwell, invited the first disabled child to play baseball on his team; watching this 7 year old in his wheelchair attending every game and practice while cheering on his 5 year old brothers play America’s favorite pastime. In 1998, The Rockdale Youth Baseball Association (RYBA) formed the Miracle League to further its mission of providing opportunities for all children to play baseball regardless of the ability. Disabled children in our community had expressed the desire to dress in uniform, make plays in the field, and round the bases just like their typical peers. The league began with 35 players on four teams.
There were no programs for the Miracle League to copy. It was decided that:
1) Every player bats once each inning
2) All base runners are safe
3) Every player scores a run before the inning is over (last one up gets a home run)
4) Community youth and volunteers serve as “buddies” to assist the players
5) Each team and player wins every game.
The main concern was that the Miracle League teams played on the same grass field as the RYBA teams, presenting potential safety hazards for players in wheelchairs or walkers. It is spring, 1999 season; the Miracle League gained support and became a source of pride for all involved as participation grew to over 80 players. During the season the magnitude of the need for such a program was recognized. It was learned that there are over 79,000 children in Metro Atlanta who are disabled to a degree that keeps then for participating in team sports, that is when the dream of building a unique baseball Complex for these special children was conceived. The Rotary Clubs of Rockdale County and Conyers stepped forward to
form the Rotary Miracle League Fund, Inc. a separate 501(c)3 organization.
The new organization had two objectives:
(1) Raise the funds necessary to build a special complex with facilities that meet the unique needs of the Miracle League players, and
(2) Assist in the outreach efforts for the Miracle League.
Mr. John Schuerhotz, the General Manager of the Atlanta Braves, agreed To serve as the Honorary Chairman and lent his resources to promote the Miracle League throughout the Metropolitan Atlanta area. With the help of community volunteers and companies, the design and construction of the first Miracle League complex was underway. The complex would include a custom-designed field with a cushioned synthetic turf to help prevent injuries, wheelchair accessible dugouts, and a completely flat surface to eliminate any barriers to wheelchairs bound or visually impaired players. The design also included three grass fields, which could be converted to the synthetic turf as the league grew. In addition, accessible restrooms, a concession stand, and picnic pavilion were included in the design. The Miracle league complex was completed in April 2000.
On opening day, the Miracle League roster had grown to over 100 players. The players raced around the bases and chatted with their teammates in the dugouts as they celebrated. Nicholas Slade, a player who had been in a coma just a week before, threw out the first ball.
The players’ enthusiasm has continued to grow. By the spring of 2001 over 250 players filled the Miracle League roster. In the spring of 2005, the Little Rock Rotary and KIDSource KIDS, made a commitment to bring a Miracle League field and program to central Arkansas. The Little Rock Rotary filed for our 501(c)3 status and has worked very diligently to raise the funding to build the Miracle League field which will be located at the Junior Deputy Fields on Cantrell Rd.
KIDSource KIDS and many volunteers have team up with the Rotary to bring this valuable program to our area. The Miracle League recently received the 2008 National Consortium for Academics and Sports Award Presently there are 200 Miracle League Organizations across the country including Puerto Rico, 100 completed rubberized fields, and 100 fields under construction.
The Miracle League is proud to serve over 80,000 children and young adults with disabilities. Our immediate goal of 500 plus Miracle League fields including several international locations will serve approximately 1.3 million children. This
goal is being realized with the help of communities, volunteers, parents, donators, individual sponsors, and corporate sponsors. This program will be offered to every city in the country so children with special needs around the globe will have this same opportunity.
The Miracle League believes;