Miracle League of Greater Flint Every Child Deserves a Chance to Play Baseball

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If you build it, they will come … Genesee County will soon have its own field of dreams!

It all began more than a decade ago as the idea of a Grand Blanc High School senior. Brian Caine had made it his mission to bring Miracle League baseball to Genesee County where children and adults, regardless of a physical or mental disability, could have the chance to play the game. That mission is now coming to fruition thanks to a fund-matching grant from the State, the last of the support needed according to Bernie Romain, Fundraising Chairperson of the Miracle League of Greater Flint – who also happens to be Brian’s grandfather!

Did You Know?

According to the Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) there are over 10,000 children with some form of disability in Genesee County and few local options that provide equal access to recreation and exercise. Constructing the MLGF field is a step toward equality for those who have limited options for play and physical activity.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation Public Spaces Community Places matching grant program ($75,000) ran from April 1-June 1 of this year. “It helped us complete our capital campaign,” Romain explains. “People have been very generous.” Other funding included a Michigan Natural Resources DNR Trust Fund ($256,400) and Genesee County Accommodations Tax ($239,000). Local donors and other fundraising efforts raised approximately $400,000.

Currently under construction at Mundy Miracle Commons Park in Mundy Township, the baseball field is expected to be completed by the summer’s end. It is 15,500 square feet in size and topped with a rubberized material and built-in bases for safety. “The bases are flat, not raised, to accommodate kids and adults with physical challenges,” Romain explains. “The surface is made specifically for them.” The field will also feature covered dugouts, a backstop, scoreboard, fencing and lighting. And there will be other public ball fields that can be used by other groups, including veterans and adults with physical challenges, he added.

The field at Mundy Miracle Commons Park was graded and covered in crushed limestone, then asphalt was applied to make a smooth surface. Fencing and installation of the soft, rubberized playing surface were next on the construction schedule. The concession stand/restroom building is now complete and ready for use.

The Miracle League of Greater Flint

The MLGF baseball field will be unique in many ways, including the continuous, flat rubberized surface. This feature is an important distinction, necessary for the field to be an official Miracle League field that is conducive to play for all individuals and accommodates any assistive devices. It makes playing baseball for these individuals a safe experience. The pitcher’s mound, bases and all the other features are incorporated into the surface using a color pattern to distinguish them, reducing tripping hazards for players using crutches, wheelchairs and other assistive devices.

The games are as unique as the field. Once a game starts, it goes for two innings and lasts about an hour. Each team will have around ten players, and each player bats once per inning. All players are safe on the bases and every player scores a run before the inning is over. Each team and each player wins every game. Also, every player on the field will have a “buddy,” (an able-bodied volunteer who will help them navigate the field) as they play the game. This is the basic game format; other game structures are available for older youths who are more competitive in nature, including competition with other teams. Miracle League games serve both girls and boys, equally.

“It’s time for the kids with physical challenges to take their turn at bat! That is what we are all about.”
Bernie Romain

After construction is complete, an Opening Ceremony will take place around mid-August, Romain reports. They are hoping for a full baseball program season to begin in 2025. “This is a new venture for us,” the fundraising chairperson states, adding that an overview was provided to them by the Midland Miracle League director.

A patron purchased a bench near the field with a plaque inscribed, “Honoring Brian Caine, Visionary Founder, Miracle League of Greater Flint.”

Final planning for the upcoming season will take place during the winter months. Plans include travel baseball with other area Miracle Leagues including Midland, Bridgeport, Clarkston and Southfield. “We are the newest Miracle League,” Romain says. The DNR grant was awarded to encourage travel baseball with other Miracle Leagues.

Brian was just a young, quiet kid when he took this on. It was his idea, his vision and it’s all because of him.”
Bernie Romain

According to Romain, the completion of the Miracle League field is a tribute to the tenacity of his grandson and many others. Brian Caine was a baseball player and had friends who couldn’t play due to physical challenges. He learned about a Miracle League from his aunt who volunteered at one, and he discovered that there were hundreds of Miracle League fields throughout the U.S. and in other countries.

With $500 from his savings account, Caine applied for a charter and became the youngest director of a Miracle League franchise in the Association’s history. Romain would drive his grandson to meetings and help him out any way he could. When Caine went on to college, his grandfather took over fundraising efforts.

From miracleleague.com:
Our players may not be able to run the bases or hit the ball as well as some of their peers, but they have an equal amount of love and determination to play baseball. We want to help them achieve that dream.
There are presently 350 plus Miracle League Organizations across the country including Puerto Rico and Canada, serving 450,000 plus children and adults. The Association has an aggressive plan to help local communities build Miracle League complexes around the globe.

With his grandson Brian looking on, Bernie Romain, MLGF Fundraising Chairperson addresses attendees of a recent event.

And there were some setbacks, Romain recalls, setbacks that made fundraising difficult – the Flint Water Crisis, the COVID pandemic and more recently, rapid economic inflation which doubled the costs to complete the project.

Romain gives the credit for creating the Miracle League of Greater Flint to his grandson, who is now 24 years old. “The credit is Brian’s. It takes someone to have a vision and get others involved. He was just a young, quiet kid when he took this on. It was his idea, his vision and it’s all because of him. Brian was very wise. I give him the credit.

“It’s time for the kids with physical challenges to take their turn at bat!” Romain exclaims. “That is what we are all about.”

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