The bats are a bit lighter than regulation, the balls are a little softer, the score is always even, and everyone wins a Miracle Field game. But the enthusiasm of both players and fans would rival that of a Major League double-header. Miracle League baseball is played by children with disabilities. Some spend the rest of the week coping with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, autism, or other life-altering disabilities. But for an hour or so on weekends, they get to experience the thrill of putting on a uniform, stepping up to the plate, and "running" the bases as the crowd cheers.
The City of Dublin invited Burgess & Niple to participate in the design of Ohio's first Miracle League ballpark and other facilities expanding the city's Darree Fields Park northwest of Columbus, Ohio.
For Project Engineer Jim Dippel, it was a labor of love. "I had never done any project like this before. It's hard not to choke up when you watch one of the games; they're so moving," he confesses. "I'm proud that B&N was involved with a portion of the design for the Miracle League Field."
During design of the field, Jim joined the mayor of Dublin, the city's parks director, and representatives from Duke Construction and POD Landscape Design on a tour of a similar Miracle Field in Moody, AL. Dublin's ballpark is ADA compliant and eliminates barriers for children who are visually impaired or restricted by wheelchairs, walkers, crutches or any other type of mobile device. B&N provided the site improvement plan, including grading, driveways, parking lots, storm drainage, water supply and sanitary sewer facilities.
The firm also provided plans and details for the specialized ball diamond made of asphalt with a rubberized surface. Markings for base paths, bases, batter's box, pitcher's mound and home plate are in colored pigment in the rubberized surface rather than raised. Extra-wide dugouts built at grade level accommodate wheelchairs, with fencing located to prevent balls from entering. Behind the backstop there is a wheelchair-accessible safe area for scorekeeping and announcing, giving the children an opportunity to handle those tasks as well. The venue also includes bleachers, rest rooms and an adjacent ADA-accessible playground.
The field will host its first season beginning in September 2005. The City of Dublin will maintain the field, but the Miracle League of Central Ohio built the field and will manage the games.
The nonprofit, fundraising organization has a simple creed: "Every child should have the chance to play baseball." The games are open to all boys and girls with physical or mental disabilities. Since its founding In Atlanta, GA, in 1997, Miracle League has built sixteen fields, and another forty are under construction nationwide.