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Feb, 2022

Miracles Do Happen: Miracle League Draft held

Miracles Do Happen: Miracle League Draft held

Porterville Recorder
By: Esther Avila
Feb 21, 2022

The Miracle League of Visalia, a baseball league for children and adults with developmental disabilities, ages 3 and up, might have still been 35 days away but for the baseball players stopping by MLV Draft Day Saturday, one would think Opening Day was that day.

Those who attended Draft Day, held at Stafford Chocolates, had the opportunity to be photographed against an MLV press conference backdrop while holding signs that read “2022 First Round Draft Pick” and “MLV Draft ’22.”

Due to COVID, it has been three years since players have been able to play, and Jennifer Reynolds, MLV Coordinator and former general manager of the Visalia Rawhide Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, added the draft day to make the season more exciting. And it worked.


Players of all ages could be seen getting excited about baseball as they picked up their “Miracle League of Visalia” T-shirts on Saturday. And as parents, caregivers, friends and others talked about the upcoming season, the players appeared to get more excited.

He can’t wait,” said Katherine McDonnell about her son, Jake, 16. “They all get so excited when the announcer says their name.”

It was the same thing several other athletes said.

It’s fun seeing all my friends over there” said Marisa Servantes, who has played in the league for years. “I hit the ball and run around the bases. I like it when friends come to watch me. I always hit a home run.”

Elizabeth Avila, who had played three seasons before the pandemic stopped two seasons, said she loved it when people shout her name during the game.

I like the music and I like to stop at the bases and talk to my friends,” Avila said. “People shout. It’s fun.”

There’s many other benefits, said Springville’s Erin Simonic, a high school special education teacher in the Burton and Porterville Unified school districts before the pandemic hit.

It gives them confidence. It’s an opportunity for social interactions and gives them a sense of community,” Simonic said. “They are a part of something bigger. It’s amazing for their self confidence and gives them something to look forward to and gives them the opportunity that everyone else does. They want to play baseball – and they play baseball.”

Besides the inclusion, the players also burn off energy during the games, said MLV Board Member Phillip Macalolooy.

I was a coach and had a grandson who played so we’ve been out there the last five seasons but this is my first year as a board member,” Macalolooy said. “They get to experience team work. They know they are part of the team but they are still individuals out there.”

His grandson, Wyatt Knight, 15, never got to play basesball before, Macalolooy said.


No one would ever include him. He would go but never as part of the team – until Miracle League,” Macalolooy said. “They have an announcer and the kids love it. The smiles they bring say it all. I think the helpers get a lot more out of it. It’s a great thing.”

In Miracle League, each player has a “Guardian Angel” volunteer. They can be friends or family of the player or from the community.

Beverly Day of Porterville has two children signed up for the 2022 season.

It will be their first year,” she said. “I’ve gone to watch Jake. (The players) all get so excited when the announcer says their name.”

The season is eight weeks long. Opening Day, when team shirts and caps are distributed, is slated for Friday, March 25. The first game is scheduled for March 26.

Most games are in the morning, with two games scheduled as night games to give the players the authentic feeling of playing a baseball game under the lights.

This year, the number of MLV athletes are climbing, Reynolds said, and she’s adding a few new teams to the lineup, including the Visalia Rawhide’s Latin alter ego – Toros de Visalia.

There’s still time to sign up for the season, Reynolds said.

Registration continues for the 2022 season through March 4,” Reynolds said. “We want our players to feel extra special as we prepare for a great season this year.”

The next Draft Day will be held on Feb. 26 in Hanford, but players, coaches and volunteers can register online at

The cost is $60 per player for registration, and includes the hat, shirt and fun activities.

Miracle League games are played at 3737 South Akers St. in Visalia.

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3737 S. Akers St. 
Visalia, California 93277

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