The Miracle Field

More than Just a Baseball Diamond

Story by Becca George    |   Photography by Jim Davis

Baseball is America’s pastime. Beloved by many, it allows its participants to experience the camaraderie of a team and build self-esteem. The Miracle Field, Murfreesboro’s newest baseball facility, is helping to expand that team mentality to an entirely new part of the Murfreesboro population, the special needs population.

The Miracle Field, located at the front of McKnight Park, is home to an all-access rubberized turf field, a tee-ball field, concessions and an inclusive playground. The City of Murfreesboro and Project One Four, a David Price Foundation have helped to bring this facility to Murfreesboro.

“Our big goal is to bring the typical population kids together with our special needs population and helping to break down those barriers,” explains Thomas Laird, Athletic Superintendent for the City of Murfreesboro. He explains that the Miracle Field being adjacent to a tee ball field was no accident. “We hope that over time this will develop a culture of the {typical} kids being comfortable with special needs kids and vice versa,” says Laird, “We hope the interaction becomes natural to them.”

The Miracle Field is home to the Miracle League, a special needs baseball league designed for all ages and abilities. The league includes anything from high functioning kids to kids in wheelchairs that need assistance. Each athlete in the Miracle League is partnered with a buddy. The buddies assist their athletes where needed, this could mean pushing them through the baseline or simply acting as cheerleaders. “The buddies are developing a relationship between typical and non-typical kids,” explains Laird.

These buddies consist of volunteers from the community, many of which are in middle school and high school. Many of the local baseball teams have some out in uniform to help support the Miracle League athletes. “One of the Central Magnet kids was nervous about going to the Miracle League and working with special needs kids,” says Laird, “After the game he couldn’t express how good the experience was and he was so glad he did it because he realized there was no reason to be uncomfortable.”

There are volunteer opportunities for middle and high school kids. “We like for the schools to bring their teams,” says Laird, “Players in uniform. We have a few kids who have come back every week to be a buddy.”

Every game held at the Miracle Field is an experience for both the spectators and the kids, or adults, out on the field. “We have music playing, we do walkup songs and the stands are always full,” beams Laird, “Those kids are in the limelight.” The field is full of athletes getting to experience things they never dreamed they would get to experience. On opening day a kid hit a home run and then hit a ball over the fence during his next game. After retrieving the ball his dad was beaming, he never dreamed he would be hopping the fence to get a home run ball hit by his son. “It is a feel-good experience for everyone involved,” Says Laird, “The kids get to play ball, they get to shine.”

The Miracle Field is the first one in the state of Tennessee. Project One Four was an integral part of bringing this here but the City of Murfreesboro really stepped up to make the facility and the Miracle League a reality. “The Price Foundation has been wonderful about helping raise money but the city stepped up and said ‘We are going to build this regardless of what donations look like,” says Laird, “The Miracle League is part of the city budget and is funded for many years to come.”  

The league, which was preceded by the volunteer organization Diamond League, has taken all-access play a step further for our community. New equipment is now available for each participant. Laird explains that Murfreesboro City Council and Mayor McFarland really stepped up and were committed from the beginning to make this project the best it could be.
“It really set a new standard in our community for parks,” says Laird.

The field is not the only part of the park that is accessible for all walks of life, the adjacent playground provides another opportunity for kids to come together. “The playground keeps the park functioning all year and serves the purpose of integrating the two communities and having an all-inclusive playground,” says Laird. He explains that the playground, which was researched heavily with special needs in mind, addresses the sensations that all kids needs to experience, swinging, sliding and spinning, regardless of ability.

The Miracle Field is home to the Miracle League but truly loves to host guests. These may come in the form of kids enjoying the playground, a pick up whiffle ball game or of seniors from the VA playing ball on the field in the early mornings. “We want to use it as much as we possibly can but our first concern is to make sure we are meeting the needs of the special needs community,” says Laird. The Miracle League has plans to continue to bring the community tougher and keep breaking down the barriers between typical and special needs.
Registration is open for the fall season of the Miracle League for ages four and up. Sign ups are available online (murfreesborotn.gov) or at Sports Com.  For volunteer opportunities please contact Angie Keating, 615-890-5333. 120 Dejarnette Ln, Murfreesboro, TN 37130