The Miracle League of Lake County is scheduled to start its 2019 season on June 1 and play an eight-week summer session and a six-week fall session.
This will be the second year for Miracle Park, which opened last July. The league and the park are designed to allow for individuals with special needs to play baseball. This year, eight teams will participate in the games, which are held on Saturdays at the park, at 35200 Vine St. in Eastlake.
League Commissioner Mike Piper said that there are 36 new players this year, which is about a 75 percent increase from last year. The athletes range in age from 4 to 60.
“I think we’re even more prepared this year,” Piper said. “We just have a real good group out there, so we’re ready to go.”
Because games didn’t start until July last year, 2019 will be the Miracle League’s first full, standard season, Piper said.
He added that the league also puts on special events in addition to the baseball games, such as an ice cream day or a picture day. Miracle Park is also accompanied by an adaptive and wheelchair-accessible playground.
“With the playground there and all the special stuff we do, we’re trying to expand it out so people can come out and get a couple hours out of the day,” Piper said. “Especially some of these families, with the way it’s set up with the buddy and everything, it gives them a nice break; a chance to relax a little bit.”
Buddies are volunteers who assist the athletes as they play, giving parents the opportunity to relax and watch their child play, according to the league website. Other volunteers help in setting up games, serving food, doing cleanup and more.
Piper said the league is also looking at holding off-season activities, such as a Christmas party and a “hockey day,” as well as a pool party.
Piper added that this year, the league has had more time to prepare for the season.
“We had the benefit of time,” Piper said. “Last year… obviously a lot of concentration was on the fundraising aspect of it. This off-season, we were able to concentrate and actually have the time to sit back and look (at) a lot more of the on-field stuff.”
Piper added that all but two of the athletes from the Miracle League are returning after last season.
“We’re excited to get started,” he added. “We had real good feedback from last year.”
Opening day for the Miracle League’s summer session will be June 1 and opening day for the fall session will be Aug. 17, according to the website.