This group is bringing baseball to special needs athletes in Macon, across the U.S.
For almost his entire life, Taylor Duncan has been told no when he wanted to play baseball with his peers.
Duncan wasn’t allowed — he was diagnosed with autism when he was about 4 years old.
“I was often not given those same opportunities because they often saw me as too much of an injury risk,” he said.
Duncan, 23, took matters into his own hands and founded the Alternative Baseball Organization, a group that allows people with special needs to play baseball. Duncan, of Dallas, Georgia, started the organization in Atlanta in 2016.
“We’re trying to form new teams in these different areas where our players can not only learn the baseball skills but to be able to learn the social skills for outside the game of baseball,” he said. “The sport teaches us how to deal with wins and losses.”
After starting leagues across the United States, Duncan found a coach to start a team in Macon.
Chase Raffield said he found ABO randomly the night before Easter after he had prayed for God to do what he wanted with his life.
He said he signed up to volunteer, expecting only to make a one-day commitment.
“Taylor Duncan, the founder, called me about 10 minutes later ... and just asked if I’d run it down here in Macon, so I told him, ‘Yeah, I would,’” Raffield said.
Raffield plans to start practices in the fall, but the team still needs to secure a field to have practices and games.
He said they also need donations to buy the special balls they use and donations of equipment. They will need gloves, helmets and wood bats. They also need volunteers.
Raffield said the Macon team will have the opportunity to play teams in different regions like Columbus or Atlanta, but he would like to get more players and teams in Middle Georgia.
“We would love if we could get a Middle Georgia league setup instead of a Middle Georgia team,” he said.
Duncan said there are no tryouts, and people have to be 15 years old and older to participate.
“It isn’t that they aren’t capable. They can become capable. You just have to give them the support for them to be able to really do whatever it is that they want to get done,” Duncan said. “We’re gonna encourage them to be the best they can be, and we’re going to instill that confidence needed for each and every one of them to fulfill their dreams.”
To sign up to play or volunteer or to donate, go to alternativebaseball.org.