Oliver Park ball fields covered in angels

Published 4:43 pm Monday, August 19, 2013

Jeffrey Palmer swings at a ball at the Field of Angels opening day game held Aug. 10 at Oliver Park. (contributed)

Jeffrey Palmer swings at a ball at the Field of Angels opening day game held Aug. 10 at Oliver Park. (contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

A swing and a miss, strike one. The batter attempts again, strike two. A voice rises from the stands, “Hit the ball for me Jeffrey.” Strike three and the batter stands at the plate waiting for another ball.

This is not your typical baseball game. It’s the 2013 Field of Angels season opener. With inspiration from Philippians 4:13, I can do everything through Him who gives me strength, the league gives special needs children ages 5 to 21 with mental or physical disabilities the opportunity to play baseball.

Organized in 2010 by city councilman Chris Bunn, Alice Fox, Valinda Pate, Denise Eddleman, Tracy Bush and Paul Birk, the league provides an opportunity for kids with disabilities to experience the joy of baseball in a safe environment. Six teams will play one another over the course of the season.

CBS42’s Jim Dunnaway emceed the Aug. 10 opening ceremony at Oliver Park. Alabaster residents Jeff and Amy Windham threw out the opening pitch, Mark and Marty Windham called the games and Carmeuse’s newly-formed community relations team gave out bottled water.

Eddleman said celebrities and athletic teams will make guest appearances at this year’s games. “We couldn’t do this without community support and city personnel who prepare the fields. Games begin with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the National Anthem. Rick Karle will emcee next week. The University of Montevallo Baseball Team and the University of Alabama’s baseball and softball teams are helping. Kevin Derryberry will sing the National Anthem for our closing ceremony.”

Every player hits the ball, rounds the bases and scores with the help of a buddy. Volunteer buddies are school friends, college students, business leaders- basically anyone desiring the rewarding opportunity to provide a child the chance to play baseball and build lasting relationships.

Saturday games beginning at 9 a.m. will continue through Sept. 21, with exception of Aug 31. “We hope everyone from Calera and surrounding communities will come out and support these great kids,” Bunn said. “To see their faces light up when they hear their names announced and the crowd cheering is rewarding. Our ultimate goal is to add sunshine to their lives.”