By SARA ARTHURS
Trevor Mahler, 13, has learned a lot playing baseball in Findlay’s Miracle League. Last weekend, he got to take his baseball skills and enthusiasm for the game to Iowa, where he represented Findlay in the Miracle League All-Star Game.
Miracle League offers children with a variety of disabilities a chance to play baseball. The fields are designed to include accommodations, such as dugouts that can fit a wheelchair and rubberized fields. And players have a “buddy” to assist them when they’re at bat.
Many of the “buddies” paired with the players are University of Findlay students, Trevor’s mom Christi Mahler said. Some players need more than one buddy. Trevor, who has Down syndrome, could probably get along without a buddy, but he likes the interaction, Christi said.
Trevor said one buddy who helped him, in particular, was “a great guy.”
Trevor plays on the local Miracle League Team known as the Chicago Cubs. In the spring, one player from each team was chosen to represent their community at the national All-Star Game in Sioux City, Iowa. Trevor has played different positions in Findlay, but was asked to play third base in Iowa. One highlight for Trevor was that he got to be on the news, when a local news crew interviewed him in Sioux City.
Christi said it was a fairly quick trip, and the family flew in a day early. (Sponsors paid for the family’s travel expenses.) But they did get to visit a little of the town, including a candy shop and a hot dog place, which was a hit with Trevor, who likes hot dogs.
Big sister Olivia Cullen, 15, said it was an almost “humbling experience” to watch the other athletes and to see them make friends and help one another out.
Christi said the family also enjoyed seeing another Miracle Field.
Athletes from more than 20 states, plus Mexico, were at the event. They all stayed at the same hotel, so they ended up visiting during their time there, Christi said. One of their new friends turned out to also be from northwest Ohio, living in Pemberville.
Christi said Trevor and the other players were made to feel like celebrities.
Each Miracle League game is two innings and everyone gets a chance to bat. And everyone wins, as they do not keep score.
“The last batter always hits a home run” and brings everybody home, Christi said. “Nobody sits on the sidelines.”
Christi said Miracle League is a place “where the kids can shine. … All eyes are on them.”
And it gives the players confidence, she said.
One of Trevor’s favorite parts of playing baseball is swinging the bat.
“And I like catching,” he said.
Trevor said he also likes to swim. He is a fifth-grader at Chamberlin Hill, where another sister is also in fifth grade. He likes math, and likes watching baseball, too, including the Cubs and the Mud Hens.
His favorite singer is Chris Tomlin. Christi said the Miracle League organizers asked for each player’s favorite musician in a biography they wrote about themselves. Then, when Trevor was being introduced on the field, they played a Chris Tomlin song in the background.
The family was there three years ago for the ground-breaking of Findlay’s Miracle Field, and Trevor has played since the beginning. He said in three years, “I learned to swing.” His mother said he also has learned confidence and social skills — and to keep his eye on the ball, although sometimes he’s busy talking with his buddy.
“He likes to heckle our announcer, too,” she said.
Christi said the local Miracle League will send a child to represent Findlay at next year’s All-Star game, too. Last year, Findlay hosted the All-Star game.
“I really just can’t wait for everybody to experience it,” she said.