This story originally appeared on Daily News Journal
View more images from this game by Rick Stufflebean at 501 Concepts
It was a morning of smiles Saturday at Murfreesboro Park and Recreation’s Miracle Field.
Boston Red Sox star pitcher David Price, a hometown hero, made a surprise visit to the next-to-last games of the season. The former Blackman High School and Vanderbilt baseball standout’s Project One Four Foundation spearheaded fundraising for the $3.2 million park with a $300,000 donation.
Miracle Field, which opened in May, features a custom-designed, special rubberized baseball field built for children and adults with special needs, and accommodates wheelchairs and other assertive devices. A buddy system pairs able-bodied peers with the Miracle League athletes.
“I’m really excited about how many people are out here on a Saturday morning. There are more than I imagined. It is special to see all the Miracle League athletes, their families and the helpers,” said Price, who stood near the field visiting with people and athletes. “I just heard a great story about how playing on the field is making a difference in a little boy’s life. When I think about the kids and how much fun they have, I smile.”
Wearing his former Blaze jersey No. 23, Price, who is a new father, took to the field pitching for a game between Rays and Jays.
Nailing a strong hit into left field off Price, Bradley Brown was ecstatic, saying, “Awesome. I just got a hit off of a Major League Baseball pitcher.”
David Price loves coming “home” to be with family and friends. Especially now that he and his wife Tiffany are expecting their first child. Larry McCormack / The Tennessean, Karen Kraft
Relaxing in his mother’s lap after an earlier game, Paul Morgan, 5, said, “My favorite (thing) is hitting the ball.”
“We have seen Paul bloom into a different kid. He has social anxiety, but he asks me every day ‘how many more days until I get to go to baseball,’” Anna Morgan said. “Playing on the team is better than his therapy.”
A member of the Commodore team, Kobe Crouch, 10, said, “It is really fun. I like pitching.”
Then as the Smyrna Elementary fifth-grader was leaving, his day became more exciting. Crouch was one of the first to spot Price in the crowd and made a beeline to him.
Price stopped to say hello and autographed a baseball.
A silver medal winner in the Tennessee Special Olympics, he threw both arms in the air with excitement.
He left the Miracle Field with a new treasure for his trophy shelf and a big smile.
For more information on the Murfreesboro Miracle League call 615-907-2251 or visit MiracleLeague@murfreesborotn.gov.