Alternative Baseball brings people of all kinds together to play America's pastime
WASHINGTON - The love of baseball often starts for young people in little league, but for many people with developmental disabilities that means sitting on the sidelines.
Alternative Baseball is looking to make sure anyone with special needs or a developmental disability -- whether it's Autism, Down Syndrome, or Cerebral Palsy -- can have a chance to play.
For these players, "can't" is a word they've heard way too often.
"I've been told that I wasn't really into playing," said one player.
But on the field for Alternative Baseball players, there's one rule: "Everyone is welcome. Everyone can play."
"He said I know that I'm supposed to start a mission. He said I have a mission and I need to start a program to where other people just like me can be accepted," said Taylor's mom.
The Alternative Baseball league, which was started in Georgia by Taylor Duncan, is expanding to the Washington, D.C. area.
"It's been a dream of mine as a person on the autism spectrum, had speech issues, sensory issues, anxiety issues, when I was much younger. I couldn't play competitive sports when I was much younger due to the developmental delays and coaches' perception of what one on the spectrum may or may not be able to do but with the help of my mother, my teachers, and coaches and mentors throughout years who have helped me," he said.
Duncan is looking to start a league in Loudoun County, Virginia. He says his goal is to have entire leagues throughout the area, with tournaments between teams.
"I'm able to get to this point where I am today to be able to provide this experience, not only in Atlanta, not only here in the greater D.C. area northern Virginia but all over the United States," he said.
Alternative Baseball has signed a team in Jersey City and in Aberdeen, Maryland, north of Baltimore.
Duncan says he had the experience with what he calls "typical teams," with a mainstream population of kids. But Duncan says through those teams he not only learned physical skills but also social skills.
"It's made me into the person I am today," he said.
Duncan says the teams in Atlanta held an All-Star Game, which they've held every year since the league started in Atlanta in 2016.
The manager of the Atlanta Braves came out, as well as professional baseball players past and current from major and minor league baseball teams.
Alternative Baseball is for anyone 15 and up, but players in their 50s and 60s have been playing too.
Duncan says for those who don't have a league in their area and would like to play, players can join online to fill out an application for the player pool and will be contacted when there's a coach ready to start a team in their area.