Miracle League of Pinellas Co. holds grand re-opening Saturday

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The Miracle League Field is just that. 

"This is a field of dreams right here," said Matthew Walker, founder and captain of the Miracle League of Pinellas County. 

Two years ago the old custom-made field was anything but a dream. It was falling apart as a result of years of wear and tear. Special needs kids didn't have a safe place to play ball. 

"The tiles began to separate and pop up," said general manager of the Miracle League, George Stone. "Now if a kid runs and hits that, he's going to fall down and hurt himself." 

Not anymore. With help from former Rays manager Joe Maddon and his Respect 90 Foundation, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and Clearwater for Youth, the Miracle League of Pinellas County received more than $100,000 to build its new and much-improved field. 

"Without them, you'd be staring at an empty field right now," said Stone. 

But Saturday it was packed for the grand re-opening of the Miracle League Field. 

"It's just gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous," said Carol Coniglio, whose son plays on the team. "It's a dream come true. To see everyone's faces light up as soon as they got here, they were like, 'Wow! This is great!'"

"To know that we're recognized in the community and everyone understands that even children with special needs want to be just like their typical peers and get out there and play baseball," Coniglio continued. 

"This is the future of Miracle League," said Walker. "The Miracle League of Pinellas County is going to last for years to come." 

The new field hit a home run, so to speak. It's now a safe place for these children to play their favorite pastime. 

"These kids that come down here have difficulties, a variety of difficulties for different things," said Stone. "To see them have a life, and get a nice life with something they can enjoy and have fun, means everything to me." 

And by the looks of the smiles on their faces, it means everything to these children, too.