“One of the things that’s wonderful about our league is we offer opportunities for people with any kind of disability,” said Smith. “Whether it’s a mental disability or physical disability, any combination there of, they are welcome to play in our league.”
Phillo Opeka, of Middletown, had lost four toes to diabetes, can play with his friends on a Friday night.
“Every year it gets better and better,” said Opeka, who’s played at the Miracle League Fields since it opened in 2012, and previously with the Therapeutic Recreation for the Disabled Softball League at the Civitan Club fields in Fairfield. “The community really supports us down here.”
And the rubberized surfaces provides more opportunity to more people.
“It’s better for the players because some players have disabilities, but they just conquer them. They just put their disabilities aside and live for the moment.”
One of those players is Ervin Meadows, who is completely blind and hit a home run on Opening Night on May 6.
“It meant everything,” he said of that hit. “I was shocked. I believe I could hit the ball but I had know idea where it went.”
He said he was “lost in the moment” when they told him it went over the fence.
“I rounded first and headed for centerfield,” he said. “I can’t explain it. It was just exciting, it was overwhelming.”
While he hit that “golf swing” homer from a batter’s tee, he was practicing to hit a thrown ball — one with an audible tone for the visually impaired — before Friday’s game.
Meadows, of Fairfield, lost sight in one eye 12 years ago, and then the other eye six years ago. He calls the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League “a great opportunity.”
“I think it’s the greatest thing in the world for people who have disabilities to be able to get out and get some physical exercise and to be a part of something greater than themselves,” Meadows said. “This is devoted to giving everyone an equal opportunity to play. No matter what your disability or your challenge is, you get a chance to play and they accommodate you. There’s nothing better.”