CARY, N.C. – Baseball, America’s pastime, is a joy to play for millions of young people around the world. The Barton College baseball team witnessed that joy at a new and inspiring level in the eyes of the Miracle League players on Saturday, September 19.
As our team piled into the bus early Saturday morning to take a trip to Cary, none of us knew exactly what was in store for the day ahead. The Miracle League of the Triangle in Cary is a special baseball league designed to give children with disabilities the chance to be a part of a team and to play a sport loved by so many. Each Saturday, families come from all across the state to give their children the opportunity to play baseball. Volunteers are needed each weekend, so the Barton baseball team lent a helping hand.
Our team signed up to be part of this incredible opportunity to give back to the game that has been such a large part of our lives. The Bulldogs and our head coach Todd Wilkinson learned of the Miracle League from Barton Hall of Fame member and 1978 graduate Robin Rose, who was instrumental in starting the local branch of the league.
Anyone could see that we were unsure of ourselves when we first arrived at the field, but we all jumped right into the action when paired up as buddies with a child.
Patrick Sherrill, a red-shirt junior, said, “I was a little bit nervous at the beginning; but once I spent some time with my buddy, I began to realize how much of an impact I and the rest of the team could have on them.”
The interaction began with time for each player and his child to warm up and get to know each other. Once introductions were made and arms were loosened up, it was game time!
Each child was given a chance at bat in both innings of the game; and whether they hit off a tee or hit from a pitcher tossing underhanded, each one hit a double, a triple, or a home run. After hitting the ball, the child and his Barton buddy would race around the bases together until scoring. Pure excitement could be seen in each child’s smiling face as he or she touched home plate to the roar of the crowd.
While one team was hitting, the opposing team played catch or spent quality time with their Barton buddy in the field. Anyone could tell that these children were savoring every second of their time with their designated Barton player.
When the final runner crossed home plate in the bottom of the second inning, the final score read 22-22. Each team lined up to shake hands and congratulate each other for another fun Saturday.
Barton College head baseball coach Todd Wilkinson summed up the experience with the following thoughts: “The Miracle League of the Triangle was an incredible experience for our team! All of us were so inspired by the Miracle League players’ efforts and true love for the game.”
In addition, Wilkinson expressed pride in the Bulldogs, saying, “I was overwhelmed with my team’s effort with the players and felt so very fortunate to be their head coach. Anybody with Bulldog ties would have been very proud of this group of young men on this day!”
The final words to come out of the announcer’s mouth could not have been more true for the children and the Barton baseball team: “Everybody wins!”
Story by Kramer Sneed, a junior majoring in physical education and a pitcher for the Barton College baseball team.
Edited by Ken Dozier, Office of Web Services.
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