On Monday, May 22, the Jesuit baseball team heads to South Medford to open its defense of last year’s state title with a game against the dangerous Panthers. The boys are supremely stoked for this opening game of the playoffs.
Exactly one month ago, on April 22, Coach Griffin’s squad played a much different game, and one that was no less meaningful for our ballplayers.
On Saturday, April 22, the varsity and JV baseball players crossed the Columbia River to Camas, WA to serve as “buddies” with Miracle League players, helping them to learn to love the game of baseball as much as our boys do. The Miracle League’s mission is “to create positive life experiences for children and adults with special needs and for their families through baseball.”
Jesuit’s baseball parents also participated in the day by providing a concession stand complete with hot dogs, chips, Gatorade, candy, and Big League Chew for about 250 Miracle League players, coaches, and parents.
Rather than sleeping in on this very rainy Saturday, the JHS boys willingly gathered at school, determined that nothing would stop them from sharing this day with kids who can’t just take for granted the pure joy of hitting, running, and fielding. The day was made extra special because JHS varsity catcher Jacob Bates’ younger brother, Joey, was playing his first game with the Miracle League that day. 11-year-old Joey has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which affects 1 in 3500 boys. Joey hasn’t been able to play baseball since his t-ball days. Seeing him back on the field as a member of the Pirates team was a thrill for everyone present.
Says Coach Colin Griffin, ’00 of this miraculous day: “For me as a coach, and for our whole team, the whole Miracle League experience was incredible. Watching the Miracle League and Jesuit players with smiles on their faces, using baseball jargon, and taking a lot of free bases is a memory I will forever keep in my heart. I am so proud of our boys.”
Player Mark Urreiztieta ’17 explains the impact of the day on himself and his teammates thus: “Miracle League not only proved to be a source of inspiration for us as volunteers and ballplayers, but it also gave the joyous participants an opportunity to play the game that we love, every day.”
As Jesuit dad and alum Tom Spitznagel, ’87 looked on, he observed, “It was so moving to see our Jesuit baseball team helping disabled kids and adults play baseball in the pouring rain. The weather being a bit crummy did not take anything away from all of us being there. The chance for our kids to become ‘buddies’ to the Miracle League players was awesome. This event was truly inspiring. It was neat to see how our guys who were apprehensive at first, soon become eager to meet their next buddy. I hope as a parent and alum that this becomes an annual event. The mission of Jesuit was clearly met on that Saturday. It was truly a proud day to part of the Crusader baseball family.”
Says Ted Ferguson (also ’87), “As a Jesuit baseball alum, parent of a current player, and the director of the Alumni baseball club, I could not be more proud of the Jesuit baseball program. To watch our players bring the pure joy of baseball to a group of kids who would never get to experience it on their own was truly amazing. Before that day, our players liked to play baseball. Now they understand the true importance—and gift—that is the game of baseball.”
Blogger’s note: Big thanks to Mrs. Julie Arndorfer for organizing this miraculous day, and for providing all the raw material for this blog.
See here for more information on the Miracle League:
Paul J. Hogan
on Monday May 22