By RICK HEAD
WAYCROSS — A dream that began nearly 18 years ago with formation of the Miracle League of the Okefenokee is finally becoming a reality when ground was broken September 12 for the league’s “Field of Dreams.”
“We are as excited as you can be,” said board member Berry Tanner of the project. “Our players and their families are excited about this opportunity. I’ve been a part of this for eight years. It’s (field) been talked about for the past 18 years. It really started getting pushed just before the pandemic.
“This now means we will get the opportunity to play games and not have them cancelled because of field conditions ... that’s huge. No more rainouts. Only lightning will stop us from playing.”
Tanner isn’t sure if the field will be completed by the end of the Fall season.
“We’re going to play on it as soon as it’s ready,” he said. “It all depends on the weather.”
The Miracle League’s Fall season opener Tuesday, September 13, was cancelled because of a soggy field. The season runs through Tuesday, October 25 for special needs ages 5 and up with players from Brantley County, Pierce County and Bacon County converging in Ware County.
“We just could not get out on the field with the (wheel) chairs bogging down,” stated Tanner.
The new turf field, being built by Sports Turf Company of Whitesburg, Ga., is located at the Trembling Earth Sports Complex. Sports Turf Company is the vendor who put down the playing surface at Pierce County High School’s Bears Stadium.
It is expected to be finished in 30-45 days dependent of the weather. The cost for the project is $530,000.
The Miracle League raised and received donations totaling $375,000. The county helped by giving $155,000 for the project.
Miracle League baseball fields are custom-designed with cushioned rubberized surfaces to help prevent injuries. The fields are completely flat to eliminate any barriers to wheelchair-bound or visually impaired players.
“Our dugout doors are being modified for wheelchair accessibility,” said Tanner. “And, the dugouts will be about three feet deeper to accomodate the chairs.”
The new turf surface creates a space to play without barriers. A turf field makes everything more sturdy and easier for the players to be as independent as possible.
Tanner says there will be a celebration, though.
“We want this to be a big deal for the players and their families,” said Tanner. “This field means the players have the opportunity to play next to fields of their able-body peers, especially in the Spring.”
To date, the Miracle League has more than 200,000 players with disabilities in the 300-plus chapter global baseball league. The national organization was founded in Conyers, Ga., in 1998.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.