Miracle League - You're Safe! · 3 August 2007
On June 23, 2007, I was a Monroe Miracle League buddy. The Monroe Rotary Club and the Monroe Family YMCA hosted the event and local businesses sponsored the seven-week league. The hosts and sponsors also provided volunteers for the weekly baseball games. Volunteers and players came from all over the area – at least as far away as Lynnwood and Snoqualmie. I know that the participants are physically and mentally challenged but what amazed me about the Miracle League was how different and yet how similar the game was to the little leagues where my boys participate.
The biggest difference to other little leagues was that in the Miracle League, every player had a buddy. The buddies were as young as 10 and were paired with almost every player. The buddies’ job was to protect their assigned players. For some players, that meant catching or deflecting balls that came. For others it just meant helping them pay attention. And for still others, there was not much need for a buddy.
Another small difference between typical little league and the Miracle League was that instead of lots of people being positive and having fun, nearly everybody was positive and having fun. Buddies and players were having a good time. Spectators and helpers were encouraging and gave support to the players. Absolutely nobody cared about winning and everybody cheered regardless of who hit or caught or missed the ball. In many little leagues, coaches might say that everybody who participates wins but in the Miracle League, everybody who participates, coaches, helps, or watches really does win.
Like every little league game that I have ever attended, there was pure joy in many of the players’ faces. They were there just to enjoy the game. And like other little league games, there was quite the diversity in player ability and focus. There were the players who ran after every ball no matter where it was hit and there were players who hit really well just like there were on my sons’ teams. There were players who could field some balls and hit some balls just like on my sons’ teams. And then there were the players who just wanted to play in the dirt. Just like on my sons’ teams. The difference was that when the bases got buried, players, buddies, and league officials laughed and asked why they were trying to hide the bases. Diggers in the dirt were as important as ground ball diggers. Players who needed help batting by using a tee or having their buddies help them with the bat were cheered equally enthusiastically as the players who hit fly balls deep into center field. Everybody cheered loudly when a player was pushed around the bases in a wheel chair by a giggling buddy. And they cheered just as loudly when the ball was thrown to first whether it was caught or missed by the first baseman.
The cheering from all spectators, buddies, and players was not the biggest difference between the Miracle League and little league. The biggest difference was that everybody was safe. Not only were all the runners safe at home plate after walking, running, or riding around the bases, they were in a safe environment where the only stares were from admiring onlookers, buddies, and fellow players. They were safe from parents berating them for poor performance. They were safe from fly balls and ground balls and they were safe from the ills of the world. Even if it was just for a couple hours.
We are blessed to have groups like the Monroe Family YMCA and the Monroe Rotary Club who sponsor the Miracle League and other events that promote diversity and understanding between all people. I am glad that I got to take part in the Miracle League. People thanked me for being there but it is I who should thank them for letting me be a part of a special day for some very special people. Thank you Monroe Family YMCA and Monroe Rotary Club for hosting the Miracle League. And thank you Miracle League players for letting me be a part of your day.
© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi
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Published 31 July 2007 in The Monroe Monitor & Valley News
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