My name is Michael Miller and I am the Founder and President of The Miracle League of San Antonio. I am often asked why and how I started our league which provides our special needs children a wonderful place to play baseball. So here’s my story.
In early 2003, my wife Yvette and I were expecting our first child. Yvette went through the first prenatal tests and the results indicated a chance of having a baby with Down syndrome so her doctor ordered additional testing. The additional tests also showed a chance for Down syndrome but the final conclusive test, the amniocentesis, could not be performed until Yvette had completed her sixth month of pregnancy. So we waited anxiously for that time to come. We believed if God was going to send a Down syndrome baby to us then we would give this child a loving home with parents who would cherish this child forever. The amniocentesis came back negative and three months later little Sydney Faith was born healthy and vibrant.
Several months after Sydney was born, I saw a story on HBO Real Sports about a father in Georgia who started the Miracle League for his special needs daughter in his hometown. His story really spoke to me and I knew God was moving me to start something like the Miracle League in San Antonio. I wanted to build this field as a “thank you” to God for giving us our daughter Sydney and to provide a place for the special needs children in the San Antonio area to play baseball. I contacted “Jesse” James Leija (a two-time world champion boxer), who was and remains one of my very closest friends, and I told him I needed his help with my dream. He jumped on this project immediately. Together we began the process of raising money for our field. Initially, it was determined it would take between $400,000 and $500,000 to build. But before we were too far down the road, we were encouraged not to just build a baseball field but to “dream bigger” and build an entire complex that would allow children and adults of all ages to play and have fun at an outdoor facility.
Today we have a fully-lit, four-acre complex including our special- surfaced Miracle League field. Our facility also has three acres of smooth asphalt that allows our wheelchair bound friends to play football, rugby, basketball and any other sport they can think of. Our wounded soldiers that come back from war and are treating at our local military medical facilities also come out and recreate at our complex.
Through a very generous donation from the Lowry Mays family, who bought the naming rights to our field, and the Greehey family, who were our first donors, and corporate support from the likes of Tesoro, Valero, AT&T, HEB and the Charity Ball Association, we have been able to raise over $1,000,000 to pay for our facility. We could not have done this without the help from friends and family and I thank them all for their support.
If you are in the San Antonio area and have a special needs child that wants to play baseball, or if you want to come by and watch a game, please look us up.
“The Miracle League of San Antonio” is a 501 (c) 3 charitable organization that provides children with mental and/or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league. There is something about playing the game of baseball that lights up youngsters’ eyes, but for children facing mental and physical challenges, that opportunity can often be a difficult first step. The Miracle League gives these children the opportunity to get out in the sunshine and enjoy playing the game of baseball in its purest form.
Dylan can’t walk but that doesn’t stop him from rounding second base. Jennifer has Downs-Syndrome, but the Miracle League has given her more self-esteem that her parents ever dreamed possible. Kaliegh can’t hear, but the cheers of his teammates have never been louder. The Miracle League gives hundreds of disabled children something few dreamed possible, the chance to play baseball. Yet in all their joy and triumph, there’s still one thing missing – the ability to play the sport like everyone else.
These kids needed a place to play, so a specially equipped field called the “ Mays Family Field of Dreams” was built in San Antonio, Texas. This custom-designed venue incorporates a cushioned synthetic turf that accommodates wheelchairs and other walking assistance devices, while helping prevent injuries. In other words, it provides a level-playing field where physically and mentally challenged children can hit, run, and catch – just like the best of them.
During each Miracle League game, every child is given an opportunity to hit the ball and score a run. Miracle League team members are assigned “buddies” who assist them in hitting the ball and “running” the bases. Buddies can be fellow schoolmates, parents, college students, business leaders or anyone who wishes to volunteer his time to give a child the gift of baseball.