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Winners Abound At Miracle League Field

Participants and volunteers have plenty to smile about as the Pirates Charities Miracle League of the South Hills wraps up its opening spring season.

The scoreboard posted the final: Guest 29, Home 29.

Just your typical game at the Pirates Charities Miracle League of the South Hills, where everyone’s a winner.

“We have over 140 kids with special needs, many of whom have never been able to play on a baseball field before,” league director Maura Rodgers said in the aftermath of the tie between the Angels and Padres. “So this is something that’s really special for them and their families.”

Saturday marks the conclusion of the spring season at the Upper St. Clair field, a little more than a month after its opening. In the interim, the games have drawn good crowds of enthusiastic participants and spectators.

“It’s a great chance for the parents and families to come out and talk with each other and interact,” said Amanda Speth, a volunteer who coaches the Padres. “And the kids have a ball! You should see how many smiles are on their faces. It’s very sweet.”

For Amanda, who is working on her master’s degree in early intervention at the University of Pittsburgh, participating in the Miracle League serves as enriching practical experience.

For families of children with special needs, it serves as an opportunity to do what youngsters have been doing for generations: participate in the National Pastime.

Sean Casey certainly had that opportunity, parlaying it into a 12-year career in the majors. The Upper St. Clair resident, in one of his many give-back-to-the-community efforts, spearheaded fundraising efforts toward the Miracle League field.

Casey had visited similar setups around Cincinnati and Detroit, two cities in which he once played.

“After seeing how happy the kids were and how excited the parents got, I thought man, we really need to build a Miracle Field back home," he told Upper St. Clair Patch in .

Two years later, everything has come to fruition, especially with volunteers who are happy to lend a hand.

“What makes it really special is that we have buddies, someone who helps every single player run the bases, hit the ball, and sometimes just cheers them home,” Rodgers said. “So it’s not just about our players, but it’s about reaching out to the entire community and getting everyone excited about an opportunity that anyone can participate in.”

Dr. Harry Miale participates via public address, with his voice carrying accounts of the action to all in attendance. A retired school administrator, he said Rodgers is a former student.

“When I heard she was involved, I wanted to be the announcer. I have announced football games and basketball games at various school districts I’ve worked at, but I haven’t had any more happiness, goodness, than when I announce this game for these kids,” he said.

“Every child deserves a chance to play baseball, and we try to make it as much fun as we can.”

Fun is the name of this game: Players often run to first base on a foul tip, or they might just keep going, circling all the way around to home plate. And they receive nothing but cheers.

Especially when the final score shows that no one loses.

donna lund June 27, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Thank you for the photos and lovely article. Our saturday morning baseball games are without a doubt the highlight of the summer for our family. My son Brian is playing for the angels and my daughter Catie is a buddy. It has been a fabulous experience for all of us! The positive energy is more than I could've imagined...sad Saturday is the last game but it gives us something to look forward to this fall. A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone involved! Donna Lund
Kelly Podobnik June 28, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I attend as many games as I can. It brings such great joy to my heart to see these kids having so much fun. A great big Thank You to Sean Casey for building this field for my little darlings!!
Becky Brindle June 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Great story, photos AND video!
Harry Funk July 01, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Thanks, Becky! The Miracle League is an inspiration.
Tom Ceponis July 01, 2012 at 08:27 PM
This is truly a Miracle Field , my grandson Matthew plays for the Padres and it's so rewarding to watch little miracles happen every game with all the kids. The buddies have to be congratulated the parents should be so proud of these kids spending time on a Saturday morning helping the athletes play baseball , be kids and have fun. Upper St Clair be Proud you have done Good!

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