Photo by Matthew Allen.
0713 Miracle Field Ground Breaking
Hoover volunteers break ground for the new Miracle Field.
A new type of field is coming to the Hoover Sports Park East. A group led by local mom Shay Hammonds has helped bring a Miracle League Field to Hoover.
Miracle League Fields are specialized baseball fields designed for children and young adults with special needs to fulfill their dreams of playing baseball. The field in Hoover, which broke ground in May, will be the first of its kind in the Birmingham area.
Miracle League was founded in 1998 to accommodate kids and adults who use wheelchairs or have other special needs and otherwise might not be able to play on a typical baseball field or team.
The fields are made of concrete covered by rubber that makes it wheelchair-accessible and safe for children who might stumble and fall. Currently, more 100,000 children and adults use the fields internationally.
Hammonds originally had the idea to put one in Hoover after seeing a Miracle League Field in another part of the state.
“The City of Hoover challenged me to begin raising money and they would find the location for the field,” Hammond said.
After bringing in friends Matt Bearden (president), Kim Harwell (vice president) and Phil Nichols (secretary) to help form the Over the Mountain Miracle League, Hammonds began to raise money. Corporate sponsors such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Daniel Foundation, Publix and Hill Crest Foundation contributed financial support towards construction.
Three years after Hammonds’ work began and $70,000 had been raised, the City agreed to pay for the remaining cost of construction and selected the location in May. The field will be in the outfield of one of the existing fields that had already been divided for use by younger teams.
The group placed an emphasis on integrating the Miracle League field into an existing Hoover ballpark because the kids have the chance to play and compete in the same place as every other kid in Hoover.
Construction has already begun, and Hammonds hopes to start the first season this fall.
But children with special needs are not the only ones who will play a role in the league – there is a planned “buddy” program in which youth players and community volunteers partner with the players to help provide assistance and encouragement.
Alongside the Miracle Field is a planned playground that will be accessible to people with wheelchairs.
Other cities have indicated that it costs around $14,000 to run the league, so donations are still being accepted. However, expenditures on cutting grass and irrigation will not be necessary.
To learn more about the Over the Mountain Miracle League, visit otmmiracleleague.org.