Despite the sweltering heat, Miracle League of the Ohio Valley players still had smiles on their faces while playing their exhibition game Thursday in Wheeling.
The children annually play a game against each other during the Beast of the East Baseball Tournament to show the public what the league is all about. Typically, it is played on Lisa's Field at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex in Elm Grove.
But Wheeling resident Lorraine McCardle, league founder whose son Austin is a team member, is looking forward to that changing soon. Construction of an $800,000 field just for the league is under way after many years of fundraising to purchase the smooth safety surface. The land on which the field is being built was donated by the city of Wheeling.
Photos by Shelley Hanson
Wearing a bright pink helmet, Payton Wilson, 8, a Miracle League of the Ohio Valley player, hits the ball Thursday during an exhibition game in Wheeling.
''For the past five years we've played during the Beast of the East tournament,'' McCardle said. ''Next year, we will be on our own field instead of Lisa's Field. It's kind of like the end yet the beginning. It's always been a memorable game for us.''
The new field will provide team members, some of whom use walkers and wheelchairs, a safer surface on which to play. McCardle previously said the field can be used for a variety of sports, not just baseball.
During the game, players were helped by ''buddies'' from Wheeling Park, Bishop Donahue and Wheeling Central Catholic high schools, along with members of the Wheeling Post 1 and Woodsdale baseball teams.
During the game, McCardle reminisced about the many home games played on Lisa's Field.
"I've watched these kids grow up on this field," she said.
While taking a turn playing the infield, Payton Wilson, 8, said her father taught her how to bat.
"He told me to watch the ball and then hit it," said Wilson, who was accompanied by her "buddy" Holland Matlock, 15, a Wheeling Central Catholic High School student.
The annual Beast of the East continues through Sunday. There are 156 teams participating on 32 different fields across the Ohio Valley.