NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT) – In the Buddy Ball baseball league, a hug or a high-five is never too far away.
The league, based out of Newburgh, is a baseball program for people with special needs.
There’s no age limit. There’s no sign up free. The only requirement is a glove and a smile.
“I really like it,” said athlete Curtis Gamble.
“It’s actually pretty cool. It’s not like regular baseball, but heck, at least I don’t have to run,” joked athlete Braxton Farmer.
Buddy Ball is one of two baseball leagues in Evansville that gives special needs athletes the chance to swing for the fences.
Volunteers like Buddy Ball President David Ernspiger have strived to make baseball accessible for everyone.
And it’s worked. The league has attracted 50 participants this year, from athletes as young as five, to even one 70 year old.
“It’s just all about getting our athletes out here, and letting them be the all stars that they are,” Ernspiger said.
And when the athletes take the field, they get the all-star treatment.
Their buddies in the outfield are constantly encouraging, and they even get commentary from the voice of Buddy Ball, Eyewitness News Meteorologist Ron Rhodes.
“Just bringing them out here, and everybody is celebrating them, and just having a good time,” Ernspiger continued. “It’s great for everybody. It’s great for all of our volunteers, it’s great for our staff, it’s great for the parents. It’s great for all of our athletes, as well.”
In Buddy Ball, the smiles tell the story. With every hit, high five, or home run, it’s a chance to show each athlete that their disability doesn’t define them.
And maybe even impress some of the ladies along the way.
“[Buddy Ball] is about everything,” said athlete Daniel Jones. “Playing with your teammates, having fun, and getting some exercise going for the ladies.”
(This story was originally published on May 16, 2021)