HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Here’s the pitch from league commissioner Taylor Duncan: the sport of baseball can inspire and raise awareness and acceptance for people with autism and special needs.
Duncan started the league known as Alternative Baseball four years ago. He was 20, on the autism spectrum, and wanted to create a way for people with different abilities to get in the game.
Duncan remembers what it was like to want to play baseball but having to ride the bench.
“I had a lot of speech issues, sensory issues, anxiety issues when I was much younger,” he recalled.
“Unfortunately, I faced a lot of preconceived ideas about what one with autism can and cannot accomplish.”
For Duncan, Alternative Baseball was no screwball idea. He saw how the teamwork of baseball would benefit people with autism and other disabilities.
“It can push us beyond our own boundaries we’re used to and it teaches us how to communicate with other team members.”
Duncan says Alternative Baseball already has 30 teams in 14 states, and now he wants to expand to Hampton Roads. Alternative Baseball players are age 15 and older, with different skill levels.
“We have those who’ve never stepped on a baseball diamond in their entire lives,” he said, “as well as those who had played competitively for years.”
Duncan says the teams can help to fill the void left when teens with special needs leave high school.
“As soon as they graduate, they age out of a lot of other services that may have previously been available to them in their area.”
Duncan says he hopes to have a Hampton Roads team on the field by next spring.
If you’re interested in getting involved, as a player, coach, umpire or just want to help out, you can reach him at email@example.com.
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