Baseball Buddies Score with Miracle League
LEXINGTON, KY—Josiah Fields steps to the plate in the first inning. The Lexington teen-ager adjusts his batting helmet, taps his shoes with his bat and points to the trees beyond the center-field fence. He’s calling his shot, a predicted blast that will result in a cool jog around the bases and accolades from fans.
The pitcher — junior Colby Flowers of the Asbury University baseball team — takes note of Josiah’s confidence, focuses on the catcher, winds up and lofts the ball towards the plate.
Josiah steps to the ball and with a mighty swing of his “Big Jack” plastic bat…..?
The reality is, whether Josiah actually hit his home run, slapped a grounder up the middle or swung and missed completely 10 times in a row couldn’t be more irrelevant. Josiah was on the field playing, not on the sidelines watching…and that’s a home run every time.
This past Saturday, the entire Asbury University baseball team served as “Buddies,” teachers and —to many of the children —celebrity guests during Toyota Bluegrass Miracle League games held at Shillito Park in Lexington.
The TBML is a baseball program for youth with special needs. There are Fall and Spring seasons and the eight different teams play on an all-accessible field at the park.
“I was really impressed with the facility,” said Asbury junior Josh Cummins, a pitcher/infielder for the Eagles. “It had everything a typical baseball game would have, announcers and everything. It felt like a regular baseball game.”
On this particular Saturday, the Asbury team arrived 30 minutes before the first of four games and gathered on the special/rubberized field. Almost immediately, the team was joined by the arriving players, eager to warm up, eager to learn and thrilled to meet college athletes.
Within 15 minutes, the field was full of activity. One Asbury player was teaching Bryce Buhner how to crouch down when a grounder comes his way. Another Eagle athlete was working with Courtney Marshall, helping her utilize the arm on her wheelchair when catching the ball. Off to the side was Josiah, working on his home-run swing with an Asbury slugger.
“Having the Asbury baseball team out there, especially to toss the ball around before the game, was great for my son,” one of the TBML parents said. “He is normally kind of fearful of new men, but on Saturday, he didn't even hide behind me or hang on my clothes. He played with the Asbury players. This is a pretty big deal for us and I am really grateful.”
Through four games — each two innings long and each somehow ending in a tie — the Asbury team stood side-by-side with some special athletes. They helped lead the children around the bases after a hit, they offered encouragement in the dugouts and they shared hugs and smiles as each athlete arrived and later left for the day.
“The day went really well and was a lot of fun for our team,” Cummins said. “It was awesome to be able to get that close to the kids and help them. Really, we were all just playing baseball like we usually do…and that was great for everybody.”
Oh…and just so you know…Josiah batted twice on Saturday. He had two hits, including one that rolled to the center-field fence resulting in an inside-the-park home run.
Check out some video from Saturday.