GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Every hit is a home run in the Long Beach Buddy Ball Baseball League, and in its 10th year, it’s bigger than ever.
“We get to give the kids the best experience possible, and it’s always been our dream,” said Mike Crawford, founder of the Long Beach Buddy Ball League.
For nine years in Long Beach, the program gave kids and adults with special needs a place to live out their baseball dreams. Now, more than 100 athletes get to play on new synthetic turf at the Gulfport Sportsplex.
“Our program has grown so much. These fields have the opportunities to play two games at one time,” Crawford said.
Parents said it’s the perfect outlet for kids to put their energy to good use, show off their athletic strengths and have fun with the volunteers by their side.
“They are willing to fight with her and wrestle with her and, you know, just give everything that they’ve got,” said Erin Ladnier, Evie’s mother.
“It’s nice to see their personalities come out through having baseball and having fun with people that they know,” said volunteer Margaret Spencer White.
Scott Jones said his son has grown with Buddy Ball since it started in 2009.
“He looks forward to buddy ball and all the fun with his friends out here,” he said.
It’s inspired him to give back.
“As a matter of fact, this year starting next game, I’m going be volunteering, too,” Jones said.
That’s Crawford’s vision for every person who takes part in the Buddy Ball League.
“Just like their brothers and sisters grow up on the baseball and softball fields, they grow up on the buddy ball fields," he said.
The Buddy Ball Baseball league will have games every Wednesday until the end of May.