Baseball: Wiff it for the Kids
It’s time for the Brainerd lakes area to step up to the plate.
The awful pun was intended because the cause is awfully admirable.
What is the local population playing for?
“An adaptive baseball field so it’s built out of crushed rubber over asphalt so kids in wheelchairs and walkers can play on that field,” said Kevin Thoresen of the Miracle League of Minnesota. “The Miracle League is a league that works to give every child an opportunity to play baseball. That’s our focus.”
Thoresen has been involved with the fundraising and construction of nine such fields across Minnesota. There is one in North Mankato, Rochester, St. Cloud, Moorhead and Duluth and four in the Cities.
The Brainerd site has been approved and Thoresen has already raised $60,000 with the one major sponsor so far being the Harmon Killebrew Foundation. He’s asking for help from the Brainerd community for the other half.
The best way to help is to sign up a team for the Big Wiff tournament Aug. 18-19 at Mills Field in Brainerd. It’s being billed as the world’s largest Wiffle Ball tournament with 10 locations across Minnesota taking part.
Anybody can play in the Big Wiff. There is no age limit. Teams are three to five people who get pledges for their team to raise money for the tournament. The entry fee is $100. There will be prizes awarded for best team costumes, most money raised and the tournament champions.
Prizes include a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., or spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.
“We’re engaging the community as far as raising the balance of the funds to build the field,” said Thoresen. “If all goes well, hopefully we can break ground, to at least get things started, this fall. Then in the spring put down the rubber surface and have a league ready to play.”
Thoresen said the total cost to build a Miracle League field is about $250,000. He said the hard costs (surface, fence) are about $150,000 and he hopes to get the labor donated by area construction companies.
“The thing is most of these kids get no or very little opportunity to play on any kind of team sports,” Thoresen said. “Most of our players, this is the first time they’ll get a chance to play in a team sport. The reason we build our fields with these surfaces is so the kids with wheelchairs and walkers can get around. It gives them a nice bounce and feel as far as the surface itself goes, but it’s the availability to move around the bases and the field easily for those kids. That’s why we do it.”