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Stepping up to the plate for players with special needs

Miracle League breaks ground in Harford County
Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 18:33:29-04

BEL AIR, Md. — Every player gets a hit.

Every player scores a run.

Every player wins.

The Miracle League has lived up to its name for more than two decades, and after watching his nephew build a baseball field for people with disabilities in Hoover, Alabama, Tom Walls decided to follow suit in Harford County.

"I had a cousin that had Down Syndrome, loved baseball, but never got to play and after seeing the concept of the field in Alabama, we just knew we had to do something," said Walls.

The county is providing land for a new field at the Schucks Road Ball Complex in Bel Air where there are already plenty of fields, but not designed for players with special needs.

"They could play on it, but you have tripping hazards,” explained Walls. “The transition between the dirt and the grass, the bases being raised up---so you have those tripping hazards and it's not conducive for a wheelchair or walker or crutches or sight impaired."

Over the last two years, Walls and his family have collected $650,000 to build the cushioned, rubberized field where each player is paired with a volunteer buddy to help make their dreams of playing the national past time come true.

"They've never had that joy of getting up to the plate and swinging that bat and making connection with the ball and then getting the joy of running the bases,” said Wall’s daughter, Katie. “I mean some of the kids get so excited that they just keep running. They don't stop at first base. They keep on going until they get to home plate and you know what? That's okay, because they're having fun and that's all that matters."

By breaking ground for the field now, the Walls family hopes to be ready for games in the spring drawing from 4,900 special needs children in the Harford County Public Schools, and they have plans to expand it to military families as well.

"They want to come in and use the field and we're all for it,” said Walls. “And also we're going to try to get the veterans from the VA hospitals in Baltimore and Perryville and Wounded Warriors from Aberdeen Proving Grounds to use it some too."