The inaugural Miracle League of Santa Rosa County baseball games will take place this Saturday at the newly renovated baseball field behind the Tiger Point Community Center in Gulf Breeze.
The baseball field was completely revamped last year to comply with Americans with Disability Act standards, thanks to $350,000 in county funding, as well as funding from the state of Florida, Baskerville-Donovan Inc., Emerald Coast Constructors Inc., IMPACT 100 Pensacola and local contributions.
Shane Player, executive director of the newly formed Miracle League of Santa Rosa County, said the ball field is specifically designed to accommodate those with special needs.
“There’s a spray-on rubberized surface, instead of grass and clay. The soft rubber surface is wheelchair friendly and crutches friendly,” he said. “Obviously the size of the dugouts are much larger, and we also have two of the three stands for the fans (with) places where wheelchairs can park.”
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Together with District 5 Santa Rosa County Commissioner Lane Lynchard, state Rep. Jayer Williamson, state Sen. Doug Broxson and Baskerville-Donovan, the group was able to get the ball field built and will celebrate opening day with six single-inning ball games Saturday starting at 8 a.m.
“This project has been a great partnership between the county, the state and the community,” Lynchard said in a press release. “The Miracle League is going to be a wonderful addition to the park, not only for the players but also the buddies and other volunteers who get to see the smiles.”
Player said the organization has around 100 members, all Santa Rosa residents, divided into 12 teams. They will play games every Thursday evening, Friday evening and Saturday morning for a five-week spring schedule, and will start again with an eight-game schedule in the fall.
He said he and the organization’s other volunteers are ecstatic to see their dream come to fruition.
“It’s so amazing to have the opportunity to give the folks that have never been able to play baseball before the chance to play,” Player said. “A lot of special needs folks have grown up with brothers or sisters or cousins playing baseball, and have sat in the stands and watched, but have never had the opportunity to do it themselves. So it’s special.”
Annie Blanks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-435-8632.