Nearly three weeks into the softball season at The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields, special needs adults are already feeling like all-stars. They were all smiles on opening night May 11 and couldn't wait to get on the field.
Adults play Friday nights; kids play Saturday mornings. It's a tradition that dates back to 2010, when former Cincinnati Reds pitcher and radio announcer Joe Nuxhall, his son Kim and a team of others decided to build a Fairfield facility so "every kid, with every challenge, should get every chance to play baseball."
Adam and Erin Condo were among the first to get their shirts for the season. The couple both play on the Sea Dragons as outfielders. When asked if their team is any good, Adam replied, "We haven't played our first game yet, we find out tonight!"
For shortstop Michael Vaught, the joy comes from being with friends. "I love being with all my friends. It's not about winning or losing. If you win, oh yeah! But if you lose, oh well, who cares?" he says. (Still, those who know Vaught say he is extremely competitive.)
Steve Smith, commissioner of the adult special needs softball, was there opening night. He was on the team who worked with Joe Nuxhall to build the field.
"For the longest time we've heard stories throughout the community (that) you have individuals who have wanted to play ball but for whatever disability they've had, they've not had the opportunity," he says. "We want to make it as realistic as we possibly can, as if you were a player on the field with the Cincinnati Reds."
Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller threw out the first pitch. "Once you've been here and experienced this place, I've said before, it's magical," he says. "To come down here, hang out, watch everybody having such a good time, we couldn't be prouder to have this facility in Fairfield."