TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. - Another spring season of Buddy Baseball is upon us. The organization hits new participation levels, it seems, year after year.
Buddy Baseball started in Fall 2009 with six teams and 36 players. Over a decade later, there are now 20 teams with 300 players – 150 players and 150 buddies.
"We have kids coming from all over to come to Temple Terrace to play Buddy Baseball," said Russ Oberbroeckling, executive director for the organization.
The organization pairs a boy or girl with special needs with a buddy, and together they play America’s favorite pastime. They hit a milestone for the new year by unveiling a new baseball field that makes it more accessible for everyone.
"Now, we have this synthetic turf for all of our children with mobility challenges that’s easier for them to play on,” Oberbroeckling explained. “It is a big step forward. This has been great from the City of Temple Terrace.”
After all, if you "build it, they will come" is an idea, a dream that he said is all too familiar with.
"I'm from a small town in Iowa called Dyersville where they filmed the movie, ‘Field of Dreams,’ Oberbroeckling said. “So, this is our little field of dreams right here too because some of these parents never dreamt that their kids would be playing baseball.”
The dream is allowing special needs families a break from their day-to-day realities.
"That's what it's about. It’s about comradery, and friends and having a good time,” Oberbroeckling said. “It's one thing to look at the kids’ faces and how excited they are but it’s [also about] the faces of the parents. You know that’s more enjoyable to me because their kids are like every other child.”
LINK: For more information, head over to buddybaseball.org.