SPRINGFIELD, MO — With a record 221 players signed up to play Miracle League ball this spring, dozens of groups of volunteer buddies are needed to make the season a success. The Miracle League is seeking help from sports teams, church groups, scouts, service clubs — any group of individuals willing to spend an evening playing ball with youth and adults with disabilities.

The spring season opened on April 15 and continues through early June, weather permitting. Youth teams play Mondays, 6 and 7 p.m., and adult teams play Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6 and 7 p.m.

Each Miracle League player is paired with an on-field volunteer buddy, who may help hit, catch, run bases, cheer and just have fun. Buddies are needed for each one-hour game.

“Groups of buddies come from all walks of life: school clubs, sports teams, a business or office — anyone 12 and up,” said Miracle League Commissioner Cyrus Taylor. “They don’t ne to be into baseball. Once they get out on the field, they realize how much fun it is, and it really opens their eyes to how valuable the program is.”

Taylor said serving as buddies makes a great one-time or repeating service or outreach project for youth and adults. While the games are always fun, the underlying message of sharing time with players who need help or encouragement makes a powerful impact. 

 “One local baseball coach told me his players learned more from volunteering on the Miracle League field than they did the on any other ball field,” said Taylor.

The greatest need, Taylor said, is groups of buddies for the adult teams. 

“It’s a very welcoming group. The adult players know the game, and many are big baseball fans.  They like to joke around and have a good time. So, for buddies, it’s not as much about teaching as it is cheering — although there are adult players who need assistance.”

Buddies must be age 12 or older, friendly, able to assist players on the field, and ready to have a good time. Buddies may serve for a one-hour game, stay for two games the same night, or come back every week. About 15-20 buddies will cover a whole team, but groups of any size may help.

Taylor says the benefits of the buddy system go far beyond the one-night commitment.

“You may think it’s not a big deal to spend couple of hours playing a little baseball, but it’s a very big deal for our players,” said Taylor. “Playing in the Miracle League improves their confidence, it helps their social interactions and builds good sportsmanship. It’s a real win for everyone. Buddies can expect to have a heckuva good time and make a serious impact on someone’s life.”

All games take place at the Betty and Bobby Allison Miracle League Ball Field at Dan Kinney Park, 2701 S. Blackman Road, Springfield. The 1/3-size field has a barrier-free cushioned rubber surface, designed to be safe for individuals using walkers and wheelchairs. The field is fully accessible, as is the adjacent Dan Kinney Park playground.

For more information and volunteer buddy registration, visit ParkBoard.org/Miracle or contact Miracle League Commissioner Cyrus Taylor at 417-837-5808.

For media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-224-5510.