On Saturday I met a boy I'll call Jay (not his real name, but you get the idea). Jay is a pitcher for the Cardinals of the Des Moines Miracle League. If you're not familiar with this organization, you should be. Sponsored by Kiwanis, they arrange for physically and mentally challenged kids to play baseball complete with everything a baseball game should have; teams, uniforms, coaches, umpires, fans, scoreboards, a concession stand, etc. etc. This is the second time I've volunteered to "umpire" some games, which amounts to shuttling bats, balls and batting tees around, dishing out high fives and smiling ear to ear.
Everyone of these players has a special story and I wish I could relate them all. Since I can't share everything (come down and volunteer! and see for yourself!) I'm just going to talk about Jay. The Cardinals starting pitcher is a lefty with a strong presence on the mound and a good fast ball despite the fact that he happens to be blind. Just clap and say "put-er right here" a couple of times and Jay will get the job done. He was able to give several of the Cubs hitters (heated rivalry between those Cards and Cubs) good enough pitches to hit. It was awesome.
Of course, Jay bats as well. This time around I was on-hand for the Miracle League's debut of the Beeper Ball. This oversized ball beeps continuously to allow the sight impaired to track it in the air and swing at the right time. Jay, with a little help from his buddy, was able to swing away and hit the ball. The ball only went a few feet but it might as well have been a 400 ft homerun. He now knows what it feels like when a swinging bat contacts a thrown ball and what a crowd sounds like when its going bonkers over your big hit.
Not much else to say really, just like last time it was perfect.