It’s a sunny pleasant day with a slight breeze and it’s the Cubs versus the White Socks. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!
No, it isn’t the Chicago Crosstown Classic, it’s BGRA Buddy Baseball Opening Day.
This is one of the things that makes me proud to live in the community that I do.
BGRA Buddy Ball is an organization for children and young adults who have disabilities to have the opportunity to play in a baseball league during the spring and summer. It relies on adult and youth volunteers that help their assigned players to participate in any way that they can. It is simply awesome.
The first game is the for the younger crowd, ages 6-16, while the second is for 17 and older. They play on a rubberized field with embedded plates and the dugouts are well-covered. The park district facilities make this particular venue a winner.
These players have a variety of different challenges to face each and every day, but when they step up to bat, they are the stars.
Opening Day is highly anticipated and one of the most attended of the season, like any other league.
Families come with their chairs, water bottles, and dogs. The players come prepared in uniform with gloves and bats in hand. Just like every other league.
The Cubs go to their dugout, and the White Socks go to theirs. Just like every other league.
One team takes the field, while one team gets in batting order. Just like every other league.
Fans cheer for their favorite players and clap for runs scored. Just like every other league.
What is the most remarkable thing, to me, about this league, is the loyalty of the players, volunteers, and fans. Many of these folks have been faithfully supporting this league for many, many years. It is definitely a time commitment, but it is also a commitment of love. What is very clear to see when you watch one of these games, is how much the players love having the opportunity to play the game, and how much the volunteers and fans enjoy being there for the players. That is not just like every other league.
These special fields aren’t cheap, but our community found a way to make it happen all those years ago, and it was worth it. Not just for the players, but for the rest of us. As a fan and mother of buddies, I feel gratified that this opportunity exists, both for the players and the volunteers. Not only do my children have a good time, but it provides them with the chance to practice being good people. And that, certainly, is not just like every other league.
I wish that every community had access to a program like ours, for it really is for everyone. It gives me great joy to watch as a player steps up, or is wheeled up to home plate to bat or when a player catches the ball. The smiles that radiate from some of those faces warm my heart and my soul.
It isn’t all about winning the game on Kendrigan Field, it’s about feeling that you are a winner.