By William C. Singleton III
During a baseball tournament three years ago, Shay Hammonds noticed Cullman had a baseball field for special needs children and believed Hoover should have one too.
“As large as Hoover is and as many schools as we have and as many special needs kids as we have, I wondered why we didn’t have one,” she said.
That led Hammonds to advocate for a similar field in Hoover.
Her efforts paid off as the city’s first Miracle Field is being constructed at Hoover East and is scheduled to be completed by the start of the fall baseball season.
“The field should be finished by the end of August,” Hammonds said. “We plan to have a fall session with the Hoover East Baseball Program, then we’ll resume play in the spring.”
The Over the Mountain Miracle League and the city of Hoover have joined together to build the baseball field for special needs children. The field’s surface, when completed, will be made of rubber with flat bases.
“It’s very accessible for walkers, crutches and wheelchairs,” Hammonds said.
The fields follow the design of other Miracle Fields supported by the Miracle League, a national organization committed to expanding the dream of playing baseball to special needs children.
The Miracle League has a goal to build 500 fields to service 1.3 million children with disabilities, according to the Over the Mountain Miracle League’s website.
Currently, more than 225 Miracle League Fields have been built nationwide and in Puerto Rico. Those fields serve about 100,000 children and young adults.
The city of Hoover contributed $300,000 toward the construction of the Miracle Field to get the project started, Mayor Gary Ivey said. The city also cleared land at Hoover East for the field.
“It’s something that’s going to be a great asset to the city and make it possible for all kids to play baseball in the city,” Ivey said. “We think it’s a great addition to the city.”
The Over the Mountain Miracle League is also raising money to maintain the field and keep the league going, Hammonds said. She anticipates the group will need about $15,000 annually to run the program.
“Our goal is to keep fundraising so the players can play for free,” she said. “We will provide them with shirts. All they do is show up with a glove and a desire to play baseball.”
For more information about the project and ways to donate, visit www.otmmiracleleague.org.