116th members witness miracle: baseball league gives disabled kids chance to play
By Senior Airman Paul Ross , 116th Air Control Wing
/ Published June 01, 2007
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The words miracle and sports have almost become synonymous.
Babe Ruth called his shot, Franco Harris caught the Immaculate Reception and Barry Bonds has yet to be found guilty of steroid use - all can be considered miracles. But never do the words mesh more appropriately than when players from the Miracle League take the field.
The non-profit organization is set up to allow disabled children the chance to round the bases, get some hits, make friends and have fun.
Troops from the 116th Air Control Wing got the chance to witness the miracle in a game between the Macon Cubs and White Sox, May 29.
"Two innings are played during each Miracle League game," said Alan Marsh, coach of the Macon Miracle League Yankees and father to Benjamin Marsh, who traded in his Yankee pin stripes for a White Sox uniform for this game. "Every child bats, every child scores and all games end in a tie."
Without the Miracle League most of these kids would never get a chance to play organized baseball.
"I feel very happy because I get to be with other kids with disabilities like me and we get to play ball and have something to do on Saturdays," said Benjamin Marsh. "If it were not for Miracle League I could not play baseball."
Volunteers for Miracle League are called "Buddies." They offer encouragement, assist in game activities and most importantly, keep the players safe.
"Buddies are very important," said Benjamin Marsh. "They help us throw the ball and knock down balls so we won't get hurt."
The games are just as rewarding for the Buddies as they are for the players.
"When (a player's) bat made contact with the ball, their eyes would light up and you could see the sense of accomplishment on their face," said Staff Sgt. René Ortega, 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron Airborne Intelligence Technician and Miracle League Buddy. "The best part of my day was when my player, Jamarco, hit the ball for the first time without a tee. It was awesome."
The League currently plays games on a regular grass and dirt field at West Macon Park on Saturdays, but construction on a specially designed field began in May. Once completed, the rubber-surfaced field will accommodate wheel-chairs and allow easier mobility and greater safety for the players. For more information on the Miracle League visit the website at www.maconmiracle.org.