Teams for players with special needs start their season Feb. 6.
Registration has begun for the Cal Ripken – Babe Ruth League 2016 Buddy Baseball Program at Hartwell Park in Long Beach. The league is open to players ages 4-18 with special needs and their “buddies,” and serves Long Beach and the surrounding communities.
“Buddy” refers to the person who helps the player with special needs swing the bat, round the bases or catch the ball. A buddy can be the player’s parent, sibling, friend or even a volunteer of any age. Buddy Baseball teams are usually made up of boys and girls of all ages, and the game is designed so that everyone has fun. Players can participate independently or with a buddy.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Hartwell Park program, and there is a new T-ball division for newer and younger players.
The Buddy Baseball Division lets players of all abilities – including players in wheelchairs or with visual impairments – experience the thrill of team play and camaraderie, advancing personal development through team participation and kinship.
The Buddy Baseball Division also helps athletes with special needs develop confidence and self-esteem. It allows them to be part of organized sports and assists with physical fitness as well as social skills. The Buddy Baseball Division can also be a rewarding experience for those who volunteer to be buddies.
Buddy Baseball teams include the Buddy Angels, Buddy Astros, Buddy Cubs, Buddy Dodgers, Buddy Giants, Buddy Orioles, Buddy Rockies and Buddy Tigers. Registration fee of $50 per player includes a team jersey, hat, photos and trophy.
Hartwell Park is located at the corner of Palo Verde Avenue and Carson Street in Long Beach. Learn more about the Buddy Baseball program by visiting www.heartwellcrbrl.com, or calling Buddy Baseball Director Lynette Ingram at 562-773-9788.