An umpire will shout "play ball" Sept. 8, and the Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field of Murrysville will swing into its inaugural season.
Part of the 4.8-acre, $1.9-million Rotary Miracle Sports Complex in the Murrysville Community Park, the field has a rubberized, cushioned surface and will serve players who use wheelchairs and walkers. The dug outs are wheelchair accessible.The game is part of the grand opening for the sports complex.
"Each [of three] teams has 12 to 14 young men and women, ages 17-29, with a variety of disabilities," said Howard Hicks, Murrysville Export Rotary Club member and co-chairman do the project. The Miracle League fall season will continue Tuesday and Saturday nights for six weeks.
Pirate Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski will throw out the first pitch. ROOT Sports commentators Greg Brown and Kent Tekulve will announce the first game, which starts at 11 a.m., Mr. Hicks said.
Also part of opening-day festivities, Hope Network will give a wheelchair basketball exhibition on the free game area adjacent to the baseball field. The first of its kind, the free game area was funded by UPMC East and UPMC Healthplan. Hope Network is a nonprofit agency that aims to make people with disabilities as independent as possible.
Pirates Charities donated $75,000 toward the completion of the field. The largest contributor is the Jack Buncher Foundation, though Mr. Hicks would not disclose the donation's amount.
The next goal is to raise enough money to complete the $250,000 multipurpose building that will sit directly behind home plate and house a concession stand, restrooms and shower and storage areas, Mr. Hicks said.
"The key thing is to get it under roof before winter comes," he said. For that, he needs $10,000 to cover the existing cement base and plumbing on the site.
R.I. Lampus of Cheswick do-nated cement block for walls. Pittsburgh Corning Corp., glass block for restroom windows. Murrysville resident Alan Latta, $20,000 in top soil.
There is still time to register for a team. For more, call Mr. Hicks at 412-860-8709 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurie Bailey, freelance: email@example.com.