Adults with special needs were extra excited Friday night as they returned to playing softball at Miracle League Fields after a year off for COVID-19.
The Fairfield complex was the dream of Reds pitcher and commentator Joe Nuxhall, and after he died, his son was able to make it a reality.
The all-weather fields are able to accommodate people with disabilities, some of whom are in wheelchairs.
Friday there seemed to be an urgency to get them back on the field.
“Martha! Left field, everybody else in centerfield,” one coach announced as he shuffled players around in the line-up.
Even though the public address announcer wasn’t there, Commissioner Steve Smith had a microphone, shouting “Play ball!” and getting Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller in place to catch the first pitch.
Shawn and Heather O’Brady arrived early. They proudly announced they’ve been married for 18 years and much of it has been spent playing ball.
Eileen O’Brady is Shawn’s mom. “This is the most fabulous place in the world and I just love to come out here and it was so hard last year not having softball,” she says. “This is the chance they get to see their friends.”
She, Peggy Bernard, and Mary Swagler were going out to eat afterwards. Swagler’s daughter Nica had just made a great play at first base. “Whether they win or lose they’re encouraging each other,” O’Brady says. “If somebody on the other team does a spectacular hit or something, everybody cheers.”
Friday nights are the adult leagues. Miracle League Fields also has a league for kids under 16.
Commissioner Steve Smith invites everybody to come, watch and cheer.