SOLANA BEACH — The baseball season officially kicked off at San Dieguito Park on March 12 for the Miracle League of San Diego’s ninth season. The nonprofit gives children with special needs the opportunity to play baseball thanks to support from the community and peers who serve as “buddies” both on and off the field.
Miracle League President Dan Engel welcomed the crowd who gathered at Engel Family Field, the first rubberized ADA-accessible ball field in Southern California. Engel and his wife, Suzie, founded the Miracle League in 2005.
Serving as emcee of the opening day ceremonies was Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Jane Mitchell, producer and anchor of “One on One with Jane Mitchell” which airs on Channel 4 San Diego, home of the Padres.
Among her remarks Mitchell presented Kevin, Patrick and Dave Kenny of Jersey’s Mike’s Subs in Solana Beach with the Miracle League’s first Making a Difference plaque: “In recognition of the generous support provided by Jersey Mike’s Subs, and the contributions of the Solana Beach Jersey Mike’s franchise since its opening, the Miracle League of San Diego is pleased to present its inaugural Making a Difference Award named in honor of Jersey Mike’s ongoing support of local charities during the Month of Giving, which culminates in the Make a Difference Day celebrating Jersey Mike’s 55th year. Thank you for your generosity and support on behalf of the Miracle League of San Diego’s athletes, families and fans! Presented, Opening Day, March 12, 2011.”
Also making remarks was Kenny Blattenbauer, chairman of the Miracle League’s fundraising committee, who announced that the Padres will honor the Miracle League in a pre-game ceremony June 7 at Petco Park when they play the Colorado Rockies. In addition, top fundraisers of the fifth annual Home Run Derby on May 21, an effort to raise money for Miracle League player scholarships, will be honored at the ceremony.
Crowds cheered as each team stepped forward, proudly wearing jerseys provided by their sponsors:
|Angels||La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club|
|Indians||Del Mar Solana Beach Optimist Club|
|Marlins||San Diego Madres|
|Mets||All Star Move|
|Orioles||Medical Rehabilitation & Kinematics Lab|
|Padres||Board and Brew|
|Pirates||Barney & Barney|
|Rays||Del Mar – Solana Beach Rotary Club|
The ceremony ended with the national anthem sung by young Brody Merila, son of Mark Merila, a former Padres player who is currently a member of the coaching support staff.
It was time to play ball with the Giants vs. the Padres and the Indians vs. Pirates.
Among the players and buddies caught up in the day’s enthusiasm was Rays player Percy Kinnie, 7, and sister, Kyleia Dance, 10. Kyleia also serves as a buddy for Percy who has cerebral palsy.
“Percy loves to be able to play softball with kids who are more like him,” said his mother Camilia Kinnie. “He feels less left out. The coaches are absolutely amazing!”
The spring season includes eight games and will run through May. All games are played on Saturdays at Engel Family Field. For more information about volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, visit miracleleagueofsandiego.org.