Field of Dreams flies high for second season

The baseball league designed for children and adults with special needs held its opening day April 14.

The sight of bright green turf peppered with colorful jerseys will be set to the sound of cracking bats and the scent of hot dogs .

For the second annual year, Gloucester Township is conducting its Field of Dreams program through June at the Valleybrook-based diamond, located at 247 Gloucester Road. The baseball league for children and adults with special needs kicked off its season on April 14.

While the program commenced in 2017, the township has been brainstorming an athletic league geared toward residents with various disabilities for several years.

After the region underwent various recreation renovations over the last number of years, including new turf soccer fields and a new turf football field, as well as the Field of Dreams grounds, the township felt motivated to get the project off the ground.

“As soon as we had the fields locked down, we could move forward with the league,” said Bill Fagan, a supervisor with the Gloucester Township Recreation Department. “When we started this, we knew it wasn’t gonna be a one-year thing.”

Spearheaded by Councilman Michael Mignone, the free program, which welcomes folks from 5 to 22 years old, holds games every Saturday with the first pitch scheduled at 11:15 a.m.

The league is broken into two teams based on age and ability with no score kept during the hour-long activity, as every afternoon ends with a tied game. Each player has the opportunity to bat, run the bases and score, cultivating character and high spirits.

The field’s synthetic turf, as well as ADA-compliant bathrooms and dugouts, makes wheelchair and walker use accessible.

The sportsmanship and socialization demonstrated last season inspired the township to continue the program.

“I think last year went great. The kids seemed to have enjoyed it, and that’s really what it’s all about,” Fagan said. “Just to give them an opportunity to play baseball … the smiles on the kids’ faces, the laughter — that’s really what it’s all about.”

At every game, each of the 30 or so players is guided by a designated “buddy.”

Buddies, someone who is at least 12 years old, can vary from week to week, as long as they’re dedicated to assisting, protecting and mentoring the players. In the past, people from siblings to the Gloucester Township Police Department have volunteered the part.

On opening day, the Timber Creek baseball team served this role.

Although the season has kicked off, the township continues to seek volunteers to serve as umpires, announcers, managers, coaches and more. For volunteer information, email Mignone at mmignone@glowtp.com.

For those interested donating to the cost of uniforms, equipment and other operations, the Gloucester Township Rotary Foundation is selling engraved pavers, which are stacked next to the flag pole behind the field.

Also, on April 26, the Field of Dreams program will host a Designer Bag Bingo fundraiser at St. Charles Borromeo RC Church in Sicklerville at 6 p.m.

For registration information, contact the Gloucester Township Recreation Department at (856) 435–5734.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. It’s pretty neat to see everything come together,” Fagan said. “As long we have kids who want to play baseball, we’ll have the Field of Dreams.”

Information:

Brick prices-

4×8 inches — $50 (one to three lines)

8×8 inches — $100 (one to six lines)

12×12 inches — $250 (logo for 12×12)

To receive an application, contact the Gloucester Township Recreation Department at (856) 435–5734.