We showed up to the baseball game with minutes to spare. The Sand Mountain sports complex parking lot was overrun with muddy trucks, economy cars, and SUVs. They were calling for rain tonight, but the powers that be had decided this baseball game would not be canceled.

There was excitement in the air. The same kind of under-the-surface joy that precedes all ball games. Only more so. Because, you see, this was a Miracle League game.

Miracle League baseball began in Conyers, Georgia, in 1998. It all started when a Little League coach named Eddie invited a 7-year-old wheelchair user to join his baseball team. One thing led to another. And a league was born.

The original premise was simple. The kids would play real baseball. On a real field. With real uniforms and everything.

The league has come a long way since then. Today, there are over 350 Miracle League Organizations across the country including Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. The Miracle League serves over 450,000 with disabilities. And believe me when I say this: Disney World has nothing on this organization.

This is the happiest place on earth.

The first guy I met when we arrived was a young father. He was helping a little girl walk across the parking lot. The girl had golden hair and an open smile. She was using a walker. Her name was Mia.

Mia wore polyester baseball pants, a jersey, and she looked ready to smack the cover off the ball.

I was attending the game with my friend Becca. Becca is 11 years old. She is blind. When she met Mia, midfield, they were pure excitement.

“We’re going to win!” shouted Becca.

“We’re going win!” replied Mia.

Then they held hands and made their way to the dugout.

Of course, winning isn’t the main objective here. Actually, they don’t even keep score. If you were to keep score at a Miracle League game, the final score would end up being something like 1,290,387 to 1,373,449.

“It’s not about winning or losing,” one parent explained. “It’s about my daughter feeling the same joy everyone else’s kid gets to feel.”

Before the game, Becca sang the national anthem. Everyone removed their caps, and we all faced the flag. There were no dry eyes in the park.

“Play ball!” said the emcee.

And the rest of the night was pure chaos.

I have been to Mardi Gras. I have taken — not one — but three Carnival cruises to Mexico and paid the subsequent beverage-service fees which ended up costing me more than a six-bedroom beach cottage. I have visited Disney World three times. I have attended the National Peanut Festival.

None of it compared to this.

The players were so overcome with joy as they approached the plate, that some were shouting. One player was screaming with glee, “We will rock you!” I saw one little girl nearly crying with joy as she took the plate.

One great thing about Miracle League is that all the players get to choose their own walk-up music, just like the big leaguers.

The first batter chose the theme song from the movie Toy Story. She hit a homerun. The bleachers went ape.

The next batter chose the “Chicken Dance” as his theme song. Whereupon the entire ballpark—including the umpire—participated in the Chicken Dance. The kid hit an infield triple as we in the crowd were still shaking our tailfeathers.

Next at-bat was Mia, with her purple walker.

One of the parents in the stands leaned over to me and whispered. “Mia just started walking in her physical therapy appointments.”

And I was getting the impression that this game was a huge deal for Mia. Mia positioned her walker inside the batter’s box. She concentrated. She swung. She connected.


Mia hit the cover off the ball. People cheered. Then she grabbed her walker and dashed for first base. Her legs were moving slowly, but steadily. And with each step, the crowd hollered loud enough to alter the weather.

She rounded second. Then third. And Mia surprised everyone by lifting her walker clean off the ground on her way to home plate.

“C’mon Mia!” shouted her father.

Mia’s walker was held high. She was walking unassisted now. She moved down the baseline slowly, with careful steps. And she did it on her own.

Her father was there to greet her. They hugged. He kissed her forehead. We in the crowd screamed so loudly we nearly lost our voices. Some of us were also blowing our noses.

And if there is a happier place in existence, it’s not down here.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist and novelist known for his commentary on life in the American South. He has authored nine books and is the creator of the “Sean of the South” blog and podcast. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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