Ballpark remodels for a purpose


In January, Jeff Fisher joined seniors Brynn Hedges and Avery Harbour as they presented the remodel of Field 11 to Flower Mound Community Development Corporation. Photo submitted by Jeff Fisher.

Every year teams of athletes ages 3-14 form a parade on Field 5 of Flower Mound’s Bakersfield Park as the season’s teams are announced. As each team was announced, players rushed the field to celebrate the start of their season. A crowd of supportive parents whistled and cheered as their kids launched their caps high into the air.
Miracle League athletes joined the festivities for the first time on opening night in 2017 and this year one of the fields is undergoing a renovation to make it more accessible for these players.
Miracle League is a national organization that creates baseball leagues for people with disabilities. There are over 200 organizations in different parts of the country, one of which was created locally by Jeff Fisher, who is now the Executive Director of Miracle League North Texas.
Later that night, Fisher watched as his players swung the bat during their hitting exhibition.
Many of the other players had never seen a Miracle League before, but were quick to celebrate with the players.
“They were out there cheering them on and getting into it just as much as our kids were. We basically just let the kids hit, let them have as much fun as they could and went home with smiles on our faces,” Fisher said.
Some athletes, such as Marcus student Avery Harbour, have not been able to play baseball before the local chapter was created. Harbour said she enjoys competing with her friends.
“I am a very competitive person,” Harbour said.
Fisher began coaching his son’s select FMYSA baseball team. In 2017 he began looking for ways his Rattler team could give back to the community, when he learned about Miracle League.
That October his team volunteered for a Miracle League game in Arlington as buddies, able-bodied volunteers who assist their peers depending on their needs.
Before the game, Fisher sat his players down to talk.

During Miracle League opening night last year, our baseball players volunteered as buddies for Miracle League athletes. Photo Submitted by Jeff Fisher.

“I said, ‘These kids love baseball just as much as you. They just haven’t been given the opportunity or the chance to play it like you have,’” Fisher said.
The select team volunteered at least once a season, after their first game in Arlington.
“The boys on the Rattler team absolutely loved doing it,” Fisher said.
During their first game, Fisher met two players from Flower Mound.
“I started thinking, ‘Why don’t we have something like that in Flower Mound?’” Fisher said.
Fisher petitioned for a Miracle League chapter in Denton county. He filled out his application, and sent it for review. It was approved, and he was on his way with organizing his league.
The organization sent him a large three ring binder full of plans and ideas on how he could run the league. Currently, the local chapter is not competitive. Instead they focus on everyone having a chance to play.
“Fun is the basis of it for me right now, and making sure that these kids are enjoying themselves and experiencing the joy of baseball on the field,” Fisher said. “I don’t want anybody winning or losing quite yet.”
Their spring season started on March 26 with six teams and 28 new athletes joining.
Senior Brynn Hedges is looking forward to playing this season.
“I’m excited to play baseball with friends and have fun,” Hedges said.
She likes to hit the ball and run the bases during practices and games.
Fisher organizes his teams, grouping together kids with peers they’re already familiar with.
“When a parent registers … one of the questions is, ‘Do you have anybody in Miracle League that you know, or that you want to play with’,” Fisher said. “I tried to make sure that all those kids are playing together.”
Fisher also spoke at the Flower Mound town council meeting on Feb. 7, advocating for the remodel of Field 11 in Bakersfield Park to make it more accessible for Miracle League athletes.
He went to the parks and recreation department, community development corporation, and then town council, who approved of the renovation. Fisher expects the construction process to begin early July, and for the project to cost about $150,000.
First, they considered building a facility in Glenwood Park, but decided to revamp an existing field in Bakersfield.
“For these kids to feel like they’re part of something much bigger is really important to me,” Fisher said. “It’s really important that it’s at Bakersfield Park because they feel included.”
Fisher favored this idea because the park has multiple fields frequently used by different leagues.
“Bakersfield is basically the heart of baseball in our area,” Fisher said.
Currently, Field 11 is a dirt softball field in Bakersfield Park. The Miracle league remodel will add turf to the field making it more accessible for those with mobility devices. This field is also near handicapped parking spaces, restroom facilities, and concessions.
Fisher also hopes to expand into other sports like soccer and basketball like the Frisco chapter.
“That’s what these kids love, is just being active and being with their friends,” Fisher said.