One of America’s favorite pastimes is baseball. The Miracle League brings the sport to children and young adults who have disabilities. The idea for the Miracle League came about in 1997 when Coach Eddie Bagwell invited his team member’s sibling, who had a disability, to play on their team. The ball kept rolling in 1998 and the Coach continued to invite children with disabilities to play baseball. The first year produced 35 players. By 1999, the team expanded to more than 50 players. It was during this baseball season that the team knew they had something special and had to continue to grow; there was a need to open the door to other disabled children to participate in team sports. The Miracle League was formed and in April 2000, a fully accessible, custom-designed sports complex was open for business.
The complex was funded by a non-profit, the Rotary Miracle League Fund, Inc., whose objectives are to raise funds to build accessible complexes and to help bring Miracle Leagues across the country. The Miracle League was the first of its kind so it created a model of its own. The kids can wear uniforms, every player bats once an inning, players are safe on bases, all players score runs before the inning is over, and each team and player wins every game. The community comes together as “buddies” to assist players.
Since 2002, the popularity of the Miracle League caught the eye of local and national media attention. They were featured in local papers and television networks such as NBC, ABC, FOX, and other Atlanta affiliates. Nationally the Miracle League was featured on CNN, MSNBC, Fox Sports, and HBO’s Real Sports. Editorial pieces include People, Family Circle, Rotary International magazines, Paula Deen, TIME, Sports Illustrated, among others. The Miracle League also won many awards including the prestigious Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award and being inducted into The Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
There are 250 Miracle League Organizations across the country including Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia. To find out if a league already exists in your community or to start a league, contact Diane Alford Diane@miracleleague.com or Stephanie Davis Stephanie@miracleleague.com at the Miracle League World Headquarters located in Georgia, office 770-760-1933.
This is no ordinary league; they do extraordinary things.