OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Saturday’s rain wasn’t going to be enough to cancel opening day for the AllPlay Miracle Buddy Baseball League.
“The kids have been great. They’ve weathered through the storm, if you will,” League Sponsor Bob Harding said. “They are ready to rock and roll.”
The players finally got the chance to take the field for the first time since September 2019
“It’s been amazing to have everybody back,” Harding said. “The smiles that you see from all the kids, and the coaches, and the volunteers.”
“It’s been a tough year or two for them, and this gives them the opportunity to get back out and be a kid again,” AllPlay Miracle Buddy Baseball League founder and executive director Bruce Froendt said.
The league has grown tremendously since it first started 14 years ago.
“In 2008 we had 40 children in our first league, and this year we have 350,” Froendt said.
The AllPlay Complex, located at Seymour Smith Park, is a state-of-the-art home ballpark for 24 teams. It's a facility that makes it easily accessible and safe for all kids to participate.
“We built this facility because there wasn’t one in Omaha where kids with special needs could kind of release and enjoy themselves,” Froendt said.
“The fields you can access through the gates, all level playing field, plenty of open dugouts for everybody,” Harding said. “No matter what the situation is we really want to support everyone.”
It's all put together for the kids’ enjoyment.
“The joy is all for them, and the work is all for them,” Froendt said. “The smile is the small reward, and that just gives us a little more impetuous to try and make it better each and every time for them.”
Most importantly, a chance to take part. It's something they don’t normally get to do outside of the league.
“Any challenge that kind of prevents them from jumping in and playing on teams at the YMCA or in their school, they get left out,” Froendt said. “AllPlay includes them.”
It turns out the real Field of Dreams might just reside in Omaha.
“We built this place so that children that have those special needs have the opportunity to enjoy things that many other kids do. AllPlay just gives them a chance to come out and be a star, be on the stage,” Froendt said. “Instead of behind the screen and on the sideline, it gives them the chance to be on the field and the star of a game.”
Froendt says the key to all of this is the help they receive from volunteers, which consists of about 100 every week.
If you would like to volunteer for the AllPlay Miracle Buddy Baseball League, click here.