Inclusive baseball league for autistic players launches new team in Elyria
ELYRIA, Ohio – A promising baseball league dedicated to making the American hobby inclusive for all stretches northeastern Ohio and creates a team in Lorain County with plans to start a season from here this summer.
Alternative Baseball Organization (ABO) was founded in 2016 by Taylor Duncun, who has autism and wanted to create opportunities for baseball fans like him who may have been denied the opportunity to play.
âI was often denied the same opportunities as everyone else to play traditional baseball growing up, either because of developmental delays when I was much, much younger. Or because of the negative perception of what I was. an autistic person can and cannot perform, âDuncan said.
Duncan took his passion for baseball and his desire to make it more inclusive and turned it into ABO.
“Alternative Baseball provides an authentic baseball experience for teens and adults 15 years and older with autism and other disabilities for the enrichment of physical and social skills in life on and off the baseball field, where everyone is encouraged to be the best they can be accepted for who they are and instill the necessary confidence, fulfill dreams in life on and off the baseball field, âDuncan said.
One of the most important aspects of the OBA, Duncan said, is that the structure of the game remains the same as that of professional baseball leagues. There are no rules or special treatment, giving players in the league the experience of playing the game in the traditional way.
Four balls are a walk, three strikes are an out, and each side of an inning has three outs.
Of course, ABO is aimed at all skill levels, so there are options for players as they develop their skills.
âWe have the ones who are hitting fast pitches, a lot that actually do, the players are throwing and catching from behind the plate. We’re also offering a slight pitch for those who are new to the game, but need a little help for the first time. Or they have the option of hitting on a T-bracket, âDuncan said.
The only change in play in ABO is the ball itself. Baseball used for games is larger and softer than typical MLB baseball, intended to ensure the safety of all players while accommodating all skills.
âIn fact, really, it’s so accommodating that I threw it against my TV screen, hit a car windshield with it, didn’t break anything,â Duncan said with a laugh.
ABO is a league for everyone, ensuring that everyone has a chance to take the diamond and participate in the game.
âWhatever your handicap, you can play. You just have to know that everyone plays on the field independently. There are no buddies to help out or anything like that. He has played seven innings locally for most games with a casual nine innings with the possibility of extra innings if there is a tie and there is no runner in second place, like the started Major League Baseball, âDuncan said. âWe’re literally playing the traditional form of baseball we grew up watching Jim Thome with Kenny Lofton. With Charlie Sheen in Major League.
Since ABO’s founding in 2016, Duncan has seen the organization expand to approximately 88 teams in 33 different states, with the latest team being launched right here in Northeast Ohio.
ABO arrives at NEO
In Duncan’s efforts to continue growing the league, he connected with Tyler Hatcher, who signed on to coach and manager on a team launched at Elyria – the Lorain County Explorers.
Hatcher had participated in Facebook groups with ABO and when he saw the effort to bring a team to Northeast Ohio he knew he wanted to be involved.
“I had heard that he didn’t have someone to take care of it and usually I don’t want to be in charge, but at the same time he didn’t have a manager and I wanted to get the ball rolling, “Hatcher said. “So I told him about it and I said ‘Hey, if you don’t have a boss, I guess I’ll jump in.'”
Hatcher is a 21-year-old student and leading a team is all new to him, but he’s ready to take responsibility and bring ABO to Elyria.
âI’m really excited for this. Alternative Baseball Organization is awesome. Taylor Duncan is awesome, âHatcher said. “The fact that the Alternative Baseball Organization is providing opportunities for people with special needs to play what I think is the greatest game in the world is just great for me.”
Although Hatcher has never coached a team, he has a lot of baseball experience.
From 2014 to 2018, Hatcher was a drummer for the Lake Erie Crushers and worked with the Florence Y’alls in Kentucky for two years.
âI’ve always loved the game, really since I was born,â Hatcher said. “I know I love the game and I love being around the game.”
Hatcher is eager to create a true baseball experience for all of his players on the Explorers, ensuring that the local community has an equal opportunity to enjoy the American hobby.
âIt’s good baseball, they’re good people and we’re going to hopefully have a lot of fun. And of course we try to win, âHatcher said.
As the new Alternative Baseball Organization team in Elyria begins to come together and prepare for the season, players are joining the roster, including Cain Olejko.
Cain’s dad, Chris, signed him into the league as soon as he heard about it.
âHe really loves baseball. But as being on the spectrum, his motor skills weren’t advanced like most people in his age group. So I stopped him from actually playing, âChris said. “I mean, we play in our backyard and play wrestling and I take him to the park and things, but he really had no way of doing something he really loves.”
Cain is 17 and is excited to join the Explorers.
âI’m very excited to be a part of the team and hope we can win a few games,â Cain said.
Chris and Cain have been playing and watching baseball together for years and now, with the arrival of ABO in Northeast Ohio, Cain can finally put his skills on the court.
âI’ve watched baseball since I was a kid,â Cain said. âNow that I’m part of a real team, this could be one of the things that changes my life. “
Cain is ready to channel two players he has called his heroes: Corey Kluber and Carlos Santana, as he hopes to take the mound and spend time playing first base as well.
Chris has worked hard himself, researching land for Explorers to call home, raising funds and getting the community involved not only to watch the games, but also to bring snacks and drinks to the players once the season is over. started.
As ABO is establishing a foothold here in Northeast Ohio, players interested in joining explorers or organizers interested in creating another team in the region are encouraged to contact the organization to get involved.
Plans for a fall season are underway with the hope that some practices can begin in July.
To learn more about the Alternative Baseball Organization and the Lorain County Explorers, click here.
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