Montevallo baseball spreading love of the game

Members of the University of Montevallo baseball team congratulate players in the Calera Field of Angels league. (Contributed)

Members of the University of Montevallo baseball team congratulate players in the Calera Field of Angels league. (Contributed)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

CALERA — One of the traits of any good baseball squad is a strong sense of teamwork.

The same can be said of a good a community; if those who reside in an area work together, the quality of life can be greatly improved.

Arguably, there’s no better example of the two types of teamwork than that shown by the University of Montevallo baseball team and the city of Calera’s Field of Angels.

According to the league’s website, the Field of Angels “…was organized and developed to hold, promote, and support amateur youth sports and sporting events and activities and to promote sportsmanlike competition for individuals with mental or physical conditions that prohibit safe participation in other leagues in the state of Alabama.”

The league allows players to work with “buddies” who help them learn the game and how to play, in addition to giving parents a chance to watch the players, Field of Angels board of directors’ president Chris Bunn said.

“Our main purpose is two-fold,” he said. “We want kids to come out and have fun, and these parents don’t get much alone time. We train these buddies to take care of (the players) until the game is over. It allows parents to see their kids play.”

Which is where the Falcons come in. Several members of the squad began volunteering with the league shortly after its inception in 2009, with more players coming each season, Bunn said.

“They’ve been coming for the last few years,” he said. “Each player has a buddy. They do whatever’s needed to make kids happy. They protect kids in the field, they come to the plate if the kids’ need assistance… (and) help them run around the bases.”

Montevallo head coach Chandler Rose said he felt the opportunity to spread the love for the game of baseball was too good to pass up.

“About four years ago, someone on campus was involved and said something in passing,” he said. “Once I dug into it, we started (sending players). We ended up every weekend sending someone.”

Rose said the impact made by the two groups working together wasn’t one-sided.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “Those kids impact our players as much as our players do them.”

Taylor Burr, of Montevallo, and Jeremy Hyde, of Calera, both volunteer with the field of Angels. Being from Shelby County in addition to playing for the Falcons gives them a unique perspective on working with the league.

“To go out and help, as long as they get to experience (The game), it means the world,” Burr said.

Hyde agreed.

“I got the pleasure to get an education (because) of baseball,” he said. “I love getting to spend time with all the (players). They don’t think of it as a job like a lot of baseball players do. Those kids just want (to play).”

Bunn said having the Montevallo players attend makes an impact on the Field of Angels players.

“All our players love to see people and visit,” he said. “The impact, to see college baseball players, it’s not everyday they get (that).”