Perhaps no one understands the magic of baseball better than Kim Nuxhall, executive director of The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields, a comprehensive family sports facility for children and adults with disabilities.
Kim’s father, Joe Nuxhall, was the youngest player ever to appear in a major league baseball game. He went on to pitch for the Cincinnati Reds and, upon his retirement, became the voice of Reds baseball as a radio broadcaster. Today, Joe Nuxhall’s legacy lives on at the Miracle League Fields in Fairfield, Ohio.
What inspired you to start The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields?
I’d watched an HBO show called Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and saw this story of a little girl outside of Atlanta, Georgia, who had brittle bone disease. She would come home with all the paperwork to play softball and soccer, but couldn’t fill it out because she couldn’t play. Her mother and some townspeople got together and built a ball field out of rubber. I thought, wow. Someday, somehow, we are going to do that. Before dad passed in 2007, we put together three legacy projects, and this was one of them.
Who plays ball at The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields?
Annually, we serve more than 250 players ages 4 to 74 years old. We have a youth league in the spring and fall, and an adult league in the spring and summer.
We have a beeping softball for blind players and an automatic bat for kids who can’t hold a bat. They press a button and the bat will hit the ball for them off the T. For quadriplegic players, we have a mechanism that they can blow into a straw. We also have two large LED boards and a pan-tilt-zoom camera so we can put their image up on the board, and a tremendous sound system so announcers can announce their names.
What’s next for your organization?
We don’t stop dreaming for our kids. Since 2012, we’ve added two bocce courts. Bocce is a Special Olympics sport, and we host state and regional tournaments. We’ve also added two playgrounds, a wheelchair-accessible glider, and a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round. Our next project is a wheelchair-accessible mini golf course.
Our next big dream is to build a gymnasium where we can provide year-round activities. The Special Olympics will use it for basketball. We’d like to start wheelchair basketball and volleyball. And the front entrance area will display dad’s memorabilia.
How can the community get involved?
People interested in volunteering can visit our website and sign up to volunteer as a buddy to a player during the games.
The community can also come out and support our kids during our Opening Day Parade. The Reds Opening Day parade is a big deal in Cincinnati, and I always thought it would be cool if we had that for our kids. So, for the last two years, we’ve held an Opening Day Parade, and the community comes out and makes signs for our kids.
Why is The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields so important to you?
I was born within 24 hours of a cousin who was born with an intellectual disability. She wasn’t ever able to do anything that I was able to do. I think that’s always something I keep in mind. These kids, before we built this field, could only dream about playing ball. They might watch it on TV or go see a sibling play, but they never could do that. So that’s the best feeling, to know that they’re doing something they never could have done before.
To learn more about The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields, visit https://nuxhallmiracleleague.org.