Sunday, September 16, 2012

Baseball - Better as a Spectator Sport?

The Braves go in for a team cheer!






Coach Jeff gives the team a pep talk while Ben eats donuts.

Teammate waiting through a bad pitch!


Ben in the outfield, waiting for a fly ball or a way to escape!


Ben's personal cheering section!




Teammate making it to first base.


Coach Jeff


Ben with his Buddy, Michelle

As always, Logan and Sean woke with their usual question, "What are we doing today?" When I explained it was Saturday and we had Ben's first baseball game, I was not expecting the reaction I received: a hoot for excitement and a plea to make signs supporting Ben.


We arrived at the field and almost every parking space was taken. The place was crowded, decorated with balloons and the music was blaring. I bit my lip because I felt the tears coming. At that exact moment Ryan told me he had goose bumps.

In a crazed 15 minutes, we got Ben's uniform, met Coach Jeff and Ben's buddy, caught up with friends and found our way around the field. All the while, Ben was trying to wander off in his walker and Logan and Sean were throwing questions at us like we are in the batters box. To say that it was stressful, emotional, exciting and a whirlwind of activity would be an understatement.

The game was about to start and Ben was at the dugout with his Buddy, Michelle. Ben spotted me eating a donut and made a beeline for the fence separating us. While the coach went over rules and gave an inspirational speech, Ben ate 2 1/2 donuts through the fence. Covered in sugar, he headed to the outfield for the first inning.


Miracle Field has special rules for these games - each batter gets a hit and goes around the bases. There are no  "outs" and there are (thankfully) only two innings. As each player's name is called, they get up to bat (pitch or t-ball style) and their chosen song is played. These special rules are to make it fun, motivating and easy for everyone to participate.

Ben's song was Bob the Builder's Can We Fix It? With some help, Ben hit the ball off the "T" and walked to first base. Then he proceeded to walk to the dugout. Huh? I got up to find out what was going on and helped his Buddy redirect Ben to the field. By third base, Ben was done. He wanted out of the game, walker and field.

Ben happiest as a Spectator!
Ben benched himself for the remainder of the game, very happy to observe his teammates play. He sat on the bench carefully watching the game. When the coach came over to talk to Ben and blocked his view of the game, Ben put his hand up and gently moved (read as pushed) the coach out of the way.


If I was anxious, emotional and stressed and not even a player with 100 people cheering at me, I cannot imagine how it felt for these players. I am hoping Ben will feel better about the game next week. We are going to try it in his wheelchair, rather than the walker. But since this is about him, we will take our cues from Ben and go from there. If he feels more comfortable watching the game, perhaps an Official Spectator can be a new position on the team.







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