Every Game Is A Tie; Everyone Wins: Welcome To The Miracle League

June 11, 2024

Every game ends in a tie. Every player hits; every player scores. There are no strikeouts, no errors. Everybody wins.

Welcome to the Miracle League.

The Miracle League of Pensacola recently wrapped up another successful season at the John R. Jones Jr. Athletic Complex on Nine Mile, providing an opportunity for players of all ages and skill levels to play t-ball, baseball and softball in a safe, fun environment.

The goal is to provide an accessible, non-competitive place for children and adults with physical and cognitive challenges to enjoy baseball.

About 275 players ranging from 3 years old to 60 years old participated in Miracle League this season, in addition to hundreds of volunteers or “buddies” who are paired up with a player every game. The Miracle League fields stand out from the others at the park, with a rubber surface replacing the usual clay and grass surface to ensure the field is accessible to all.

“We make it as much like baseball as we can make it,” said Miracle League of Pensacola President and Co-Founder Larry Thompson, who started the program in 2002. “We just want them to get the whole experience of what baseball is.”

With no paid staff, Miracle League relies on volunteers to keep the program going, along with support from community partners.

In addition to Escambia County donating the land at the park for the Miracle League to use, the Parks and Recreation Department supports the organization by providing park maintenance. Over the years, Parks and Recreation has also coordinated with Miracle League to provide sidewalks, bleachers, additional field safety netting and enhanced parking options.

“We are so proud to support Miracle League of Pensacola and their incredibly important mission in our community,” Parks and Recreation Director Michael Rhodes said. “When you see the excitement on the players’ faces when they reach a new milestone or just get a chance to experience the simple joy of playing baseball, it’s absolutely priceless.”

Thompson said he’s constantly amazed by the community’s generosity, with countless individuals, small businesses, and organizations donating their time and money over the years to support Miracle League. Escambia County’s continued partnership and support have also been a huge help for Miracle League, Thompson said.

District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry, who served as Miracle League’s Treasurer for 15 years, said the county is honored to support Miracle League and the positive impact they continue to make in the community.

“Miracle League is a fantastic example of an organization that is changing lives for the better, by providing an opportunity for players of all abilities to feel included and have a place where they belong,” Commissioner Barry said. “I’d like to thank the many volunteers and buddies who have given thousands of dollars and countless hours of their time to support our players and Miracle League’s mission.”

While Escambia County Parks and Recreation is proud to play a role in Miracle League, Rhodes emphasized that the real credit belongs to the volunteers who work hard every day to keep the program going.

“The volunteers are such a key element to Miracle League’s mission and their continued success and growth,” Rhodes said. “We’re happy to provide the park and assist with improvements at the facility, but the volunteers are truly the heart and soul of Miracle League and the incredible opportunities they provide for their players.”

Commissioner Lumon May, who represents District 3 where the John R. Jones Jr. Athletic Complex is located, said Miracle League plays an essential role in ensuring youth sports are accessible to everyone in the Escambia County community.

“Youth sports are such a fundamental part of childhood, and nobody should be excluded from participating based on their ability,” Commissioner May said. “Miracle League of Pensacola provides an opportunity for all athletes to participate in the great game of baseball, which can be life-changing for those who might not have been able to play otherwise.”

Thompson said one of the most rewarding parts of Miracle League is getting to witness the smiles on the players’ faces and watching them overcome physical limitations to achieve things they may have once considered impossible.

“I just think it’s one of the greatest things you can do, to watch a kid hit a ball, run to second base and then get to run home,” Thompson said. “When we first started, we barely saw a home run – now it’s not uncommon to see them every game. Really and truly, Miracle League is one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.”

One of the greatest highlights this season was being able to take two players to the World Series in Arlington, Texas, which Thompson said was an unforgettable experience. Another favorite memory was seeing Abigail, a former Miracle League player, begin volunteering as a Miracle League buddy.

“She wore big heavy crutches, and you could just see the struggle to go to first base,” Thompson said. “Here she is running as hard as she can, and her buddy is walking next to her. Now she’s signed up as a buddy and she’s attending college. I just think those kinds of stories are what dreams are made of.”

To learn more about the Miracle League of Pensacola or how to become a volunteer, visit the Miracle League website or contact Larry Thompson at (850) 393-5043.

Photos courtesy Miracle League for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.


One Response to “Every Game Is A Tie; Everyone Wins: Welcome To The Miracle League”

  1. Christopher & Eileen Sanford on June 13th, 2024 8:58 pm

    Thank you for writing this article and making your readers aware of this wonderful organization. Our daughter, who has Down Syndrome has been playing in the MLP for two years now and simply loves it. It’s not just that she can play and enjoy the game (she’s a fair hitter) but even more important for her is that she gets to be with others “like her” and enjoy being in the team with them.

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