MLB stars help open Miracle League Field

“This field is smooth and a lot better than the other one,” said Martinez, who later got to meet his favorite player, Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. “It’s very smooth, so I can run faster.”

Since 2010, the Miracle League of Miami-Dade has had one mission: Every child — regardless their physical or developmental challenges — deserves a chance to play baseball.

The league’s new home field — an All-Star Legacy Plus project — includes a specialized rubber field that offers a safe and obstacle-free playing environment for use by children and young adults with special needs. It can be accessed by over 69,000 people in the area, ranging in age from 6 to 66 years old.

On Sunday, Publix donated $1,000 worth of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, while tickets to the All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and the T-Mobile Home Run Derby were raffled off. There was also a catered BBQ before the field was christened with a game.

Ray Rocha, co-chairman of the Miracle League Miami-Dade, anticipates “exponential” growth because of the location, which is near Florida International University and major highways.

What started with exhibitions has grown into six-game seasons with contests on Saturdays in the spring and fall. The Miracle League Miami-Dade used to play at Suniland Park in Pinecrest, and the roster has increased to 65 active players. 

Dawson, Carl Pavano, Gaby Sanchez and Jeff Conine regularly participate in events the Miracle League and the Marlins hold, and it was no different on Sunday.

“It’s been a long time coming. A good friend of mine is involved with Miracle League out in California, and he showed me a lot of pictures and told me a lot about the organization out there,” Dawson said. “When this first got started, I talked with some people about what was going on in California, and we should probably try and see what can be done out here. That was five years ago. I guess it all came to fruition. This is very exciting. The kids are amazing. The courage, the heart that they show, they come out to have fun, and it brings the kid back out of you to be able to be out there with them and to help them come along and let them actually see that they can perform and play, as opposed to just watching.”

On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, tune in to the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 88th All-Star Game, in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International’s independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Christin De Nicola is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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