The MLB is coming to Brainerd but the acronym does not stand for Major League Baseball.
Miracle League Baseball representative Kevin Thoresen has teamed up with Brainerd Parks and Recreation Director Tony Sailer to bring a handicapped accessible baseball field to Bane Park on the south side of town.
“The Miracle Field is for mentally and physically handicapped kids to be able to play baseball, and will be used for such things as our T-ball program also,” said Sailer. “It’s going to be a multi-use field with the emphasis on handicapped individuals.”
The field will be made of artificial turf to prevent injuries and allow individuals in wheelchairs to use the field, but will be painted to resemble a regular field.
“This field will serve a lot of people, and there’s not that much out there for disabled kids,” Sailer said. “Instead of always watching their siblings play, this will be a great opportunity for disabled kids to play and have their brothers and sisters watch them.”
The field will serve athletes in about a 45-mile radius, and each player will have an able-bodied “buddy” to assist them during a game.
“Everybody bats and scores. And at the end of the game both teams win,” said Sailer.
Fundraising for the field has reached approximately $100,000. The cost of the fencing and artificial turf is about $140,000. An asphalt pad needs to be installed below the turf and Sailer hopes to receive a donation for that cost. Thoresen has already helped commission nine Miracle League fields in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Thoresen approached Sailer last year with the idea of building one in Brainerd. Sailer said if enough donations are received he would like to see the field open for play by 2014.
Miracle League receives no tax dollars or public funds for its projects. All contributions have been through business or personal donations and fundraisers, such as the Big Whiff Whiffle Ball Tournament played in August throughout Minnesota, including in Brainerd. Even the Minnesota Twins have chipped in, donating an undisclosed amount.
“Darlys Every and Jerry “Chic” Lyscio have also been knocking on doors, raising funds in the Brainerd area,” Sailer said. “They have been working hard at making this field become a reality.
“We need just a little more community involvement. We’re getting close but need to get over the hump.
“Building this field will make Brainerd proud.”