TribLIVE

| Home


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Special-needs kids find a place to play in Western Pa. through Miracle League

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays player Christopher Holzman of Murrysville jumps onto home plate to score a run during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays player Christopher Holzman of Murrysville jumps onto home plate to score a run during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Reds player J.T. Esposito ,5, of Murrysville greets Miracle League secretary Patti Hicks after he arrived at third base during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Reds player J.T. Esposito ,5, of Murrysville greets Miracle League secretary Patti Hicks after he arrived at third base during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Diamondbacks player Christopher Welling of Delmont tags out Blue Jays baserunner Nicholas Sciullo of Latrobe during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Diamondbacks player Christopher Welling of Delmont tags out Blue Jays baserunner Nicholas Sciullo of Latrobe during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays player Christopher Holzman of Murrysville runs past Diamondbacks fielders from left Alex Novak of Murrysville,Christopher Welling of Delmont and Janicesa Rockwell of Export as he celebrates his home run during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays player Christopher Holzman of Murrysville runs past Diamondbacks fielders from left Alex Novak of Murrysville,Christopher Welling of Delmont and Janicesa Rockwell of Export as he celebrates his home run during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field  in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays player Greg Amond of Derry shakes hands with Diamondback players following their competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays player Greg Amond of Derry shakes hands with Diamondback players following their competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Reds player Danielle List of McKeesport shares a laugh with her sister Courtney who serves as her buddy, as they play infield during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Reds player Danielle List of McKeesport shares a laugh with her sister Courtney who serves as her buddy, as they play infield during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Miracle League President Harold Hicks holds the legs in place of Mets player Becky Guerrieri of Monroeville while she bats during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Miracle League President Harold Hicks holds the legs in place of Mets player Becky Guerrieri of Monroeville while she bats during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Reds players Hannah Williams of Penn Hills (left) and J.T. Esposito of Murrysville (right) enjoy their trophies while waiting with Henry Arelt and the rest of their team to gather for a portrait at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville. All 132 players were given a trophy at a season ending picnic.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Reds players Hannah Williams of Penn Hills (left) and J.T. Esposito of Murrysville (right) enjoy their trophies while waiting with Henry Arelt and the rest of their team to gather for a portrait at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville. All 132 players were given a trophy at a season ending picnic.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Diamondbacks player John Mozeik of West Mifflin sings the national anthem before a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Diamondbacks player John Mozeik of West Mifflin sings the national anthem before a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays player Landon Carlson of Murrysville joins his teammates in a cheer following their competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays player Landon Carlson of Murrysville joins his teammates in a cheer following their competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Reds player Hannah Williams of Penn Hills waits to play a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Reds player Hannah Williams of Penn Hills waits to play a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays player Grant Silvestri of Delmont makes a throw after fielding a line drive during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays player Grant Silvestri of Delmont makes a throw after fielding a line drive during a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays players Shari DeGeorge (center) and her sister Jill (right) of North Huntingdon join their friends Emma Slezak (left) of New Alexandria and Paige Thornburg of North Huntingdon who play for the Diamondbacks in a group hug following their competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays players Shari DeGeorge (center) and her sister Jill (right) of North Huntingdon join their friends Emma Slezak (left) of New Alexandria and Paige Thornburg of North Huntingdon who play for the Diamondbacks in a group hug following their competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Sandy Wilson and her dog Rocky of Harrison City join Kim Monstrola and her daughter Tori of Plum as they watch the action between the Blue Jays and the Diamondbacks in a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville. Wilson's son Matt plays for the Diamondbacks and Monstrola's son Vincent plays for the Blue Jays.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Sandy Wilson and her dog Rocky of Harrison City join Kim Monstrola and her daughter Tori of Plum as they watch the action between the Blue Jays and the Diamondbacks in a competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville. Wilson's son Matt plays for the Diamondbacks and Monstrola's son Vincent plays for the Blue Jays.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Reds player Matthew Jacko, 9, of Monroeville, is visited by Miracle League President Harold Hicks and teammate Zoe Whitman,11, of Monroeville, following Matthew's last miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville on June 14. Matthew, who played despite being in hospice care, died on June 25.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Reds player Matthew Jacko, 9, of Monroeville, is visited by Miracle League President Harold Hicks and teammate Zoe Whitman,11, of Monroeville, following Matthew's last miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville on June 14. Matthew, who played despite being in hospice care, died on June 25.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Pirates player Dawn Gipson of Export celebrates after scoring a run during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates player Dawn Gipson of Export celebrates after scoring a run during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays competitive player Dan Lucas of Plum helps Reds player Josh Meyers,2, of Churchill find home plate while he serves as his buddy during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays competitive player Dan Lucas of Plum helps Reds player Josh Meyers,2, of Churchill find home plate while he serves as his buddy during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Reds player Josh Meyers ,2, of Churchill has his photograph taken with his parents Dave and Lisa following a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Reds player Josh Meyers ,2, of Churchill has his photograph taken with his parents Dave and Lisa following a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Tigers coach Dale Gabriel of Slickville helps his player Saraann Skalka of Monroeville bat during a Miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Tigers coach Dale Gabriel of Slickville helps his player Saraann Skalka of Monroeville bat during a Miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Blue Jays player Charlie Osborn,11,of Penn Township, is hugged by his father Mike following his competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Blue Jays player Charlie Osborn,11,of Penn Township, is hugged by his father Mike following his competitive division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Red Sox base runner Heather Quick of Penn Hills sprints toward home plate with encouragement from her coach Bradley Kelly during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Red Sox base runner Heather Quick of Penn Hills sprints toward home plate with encouragement from her coach Bradley Kelly during a miracle division game at Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville.

Daily Photo Galleries

By Photos and Story By Barry Reeger
Sunday, July 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Daniel Lucas' mom showed him how to take a level swing in baseball as a boy. His dad taught him that playing catch isn't called, “Dad, go get it.”

But it wasn't until the inaugural Miracle League of Western PA in 2012 that Lucas, 33, of Plum could show his stuff on a real team.

Lucas, who has Down syndrome, and about 130 others with special needs in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties found a place to play baseball through the Miracle League. Fields such as Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field in Murrysville Community Park have a rubberized diamond so that wheelchairs and crutches don't slow the kids down one bit.

The players' accomplishments are visible on a giant scoreboard — and shine in their faces.

Everyone involved feels a sense of accomplishment.

“The most rewarding part is all of the respect that you get from all of the parents for actually reaching out to their kids and making an impact,” said Tori Shephard of Delmont, an assistant coach and buddy to the players.

“I love playing, I really do, but I like to help the little kids, too, because it is more about them than it is about anything else,” said Lucas, who volunteers when his games end.

Pam Azzara's son Preston, 8, came to the Miracle League after trying to play in his local T-ball association. Autism made that difficult.

“He has blossomed, and he loves being here with all of his friends, and they can all just be themselves,” said Azzara of Plum.

At 5, J.T. Esposito finally reached the age where he can play in the league. His vision issues, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and cerebral palsy aren't a barrier.

“He is a whole person here, and he fits in,” said his mother, Cathy Esposito of Murrysville.

Carey Mynahan-Jacko said the league was a welcome respite for her son, Matthew, diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in April 2012. He played despite being in hospice care.

“We wanted to keep as much of a normal childhood as we could for Matthew. I truly believe it helped,” said Mynahan-Jacko of Monroeville.

Matthew died on June 25, just days after receiving his end-of-season trophy.

Barry Reeger is a Trib Total Media photographer. Reach him at breeger@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Photos

  1. Thursday - March 26, 2015
  2. Wednesday - March 25, 2015