On Saturday, everyone was a baseball fan.
Visit Kingsport Executive Director Jud Teague, who has spearheaded the endeavor since the beginning, said it’s hard to put into words what the project means to his son, his family and so many other families with special needs children.
“This will be what it’s all about,” Teague said. “To see those kids, our children, on the field smiling and playing and having fun is why we did this.”
A Miracle League Field is a baseball field built to accommodate special needs children and young adults, but such facilities also serve seniors and wounded warriors. Teague, a former high school baseball coach, was motivated by his son Nicholas (who has Down syndrome) to bring such a field to the Model City.
During Saturday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, City Manager Chris McCartt presented Teague with a street sign bearing his name. From now on, the street leading to the Miracle Field will be known as Jud Teague Way.
“I lost my mother when I was 12 and my dad and I became very close, and he instilled in me that I need to give back to my community,” Teague said. “My wife and I have tried everywhere we’ve been in this country to leave something better than we found it. My father has a building named after him in Knoxville for efforts he had done. Dad, I got a street.”
ABOUT THE PROJECT
A Miracle Field is about a third of the size of a regular field, and instead of grass or traditional astroturf, the field has a flat, rubberized surface. The mound and all of the bases are flush, so wheelchair users and amputees can travel over the surface more easily and safely.
Kingsport’s field is located at Brickyard Park (off Industry Drive) behind the four fields that already exist at the facility. The $2.56 million complex includes the field, a pavilion and all-accessible playground and “Homer” the mascot statue at the entrance. Future additions could include a second ball field, soccer field and zip line.
The new field will be an enormous benefit for the entire region, as it will be the first Miracle League complex in Northeast Tennessee, Teague said. The closest Miracle League complex in Tennessee is in Chattanooga, with Roanoke being the closest in Virginia.
There are more than 300 Miracle League organizations across the country, in Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia, serving in excess of 200,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
Teague said there are 85,000 children in Tennessee with some type of special need and that once the Brickyard Park facility is complete, it would likely serve 2,500 to 3,000 of them.
Visit Kingsport is planning to organize a fall league for the new facility, starting in mid-August if coronavirus regulations will allow it. If you wish to participate in the league, contact Teague at (423) 392-8800 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For more information on the project or to make a donation, visit www.miracleleague.com.