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Feb, 2022

Draft Day for Miracle League to be held in Porterville

Draft Day for Miracle League to be held in Porterville

Porterville Recorder
By: Esther Avila
Feb 16, 2022

It has been two years since Miracle League of Visalia players have suited up and headed to the Miracle League Fields to do what they love to do - play ball. But now, they’re ready to do it again, and the players couldn’t be more excited – especially since this year marks the inaugural “Draft Days.”

“Since it has been two years since our players have been able to suit up, I wanted to drum up some extra excitement leading up to the season,” said Jennifer Reynolds, Visalia Miracle League Coordinator and former general manager of the Visalia Rawhide, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. “As registration continues for the 2022 season, we want our players to feel extra special as we prepare for a great season this year, and have come up with a series of events we’re calling the ‘Draft.’”

In 2020, right before the pandemic hit, Miracle League was seeing a record number of players.


“We had added a high number of players – 200,” Reynolds said. “Historically, we always had the same teams but in preparation for the 2020 season, we added four new teams, including the Visalia Rawhide’s Latin alter ego – Toros de Visalia. Other teams included Washington Nationals, Seattle Mariners and one other, said Reynolds.

This year, the numbers are also climbing, Reynolds said.

“We are ahead of the pace. I think we will hit that 200,” she said.

The Visalia Draft was held last Saturday, she said, and had more than 100 people in attendance.

“We had 16 new players register at our Visalia Draft,” Reynolds said. “We opened up the rubber-turf field and at one point it was completely (filled with players, family, and caregivers). That has spoken volumes for me. People are ready to get outside and see friends again. This is going to be an awesome season.”

Porterville’s own Benjamin Rodriguez, who calls himself “Benny – The Jet – Rodriguez” is super excited, said his mother, Antonia Rodriguez

“He’s been on Miracle League for about five or six years. He is really excited and always asking about it. We signed up finally this year,” she said. “He really wants to be on the Dodgers team so he can say he is Benny The Jet of the Dodgers. And he’s really excited about the Draft Day.”

Rodriguez likes to watch “The Sandlot” movie and when Benny The Jet Rodriguez is on the screen, he will say ‘That’s me! That’s me!’ all excited, said Mrs. Rodriguez

“I love baseball. I can’t wait for baseball. I can’t wait to see all my friends,” Benny Rodriguez said.

Katherine McDonell of Porterville said her son is the same way, filled with excitement for the new season.

Jake, 16, is non-verbal, but it’s clear he can’t wait for baseball to start.

“He’s played several years. He can’t talk but he gets very excited looking at the pictures of baseball. He’s really missed it. He loves baseball. He loved watching his nephews and nieces play Little League, until we discovered Miracle League. We go to as many games as possible. We might have missed a game every now and then.”

McDonell said she plans on taking Jake, along with two other children from their care home to Draft Day on Saturday.

Porterville’s Inaugural Draft Day will be held 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Stafford’s Chocolates, 114 N. Main St.

Those who register at the event, or are currently registered players, will receive a free T-shirt. Players and their families can also take photographs in front of the press-conference backdrop.

Miracle League is a baseball league for children and adults, ages 3 and older with developmental disabilities. Games last an approximate hour and aren’t competitive, as each team bats through the lineup and every player gets a hit and can choose a base to stop on, or continue through for a home run, regardless of where the ball was hit. There are no outs in Miracle League and the final score is always a tie.

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