Central New York special needs little leaguers look for home field

Parker Wall is one of the young faces that makes up the Challenger Baseball Little League

For most young people in America, Little League Baseball is a foregone conclusion of their childhood.

For Challenger Little Leaguers it's anything but that. It's a gift.

"It's given me, It's another opportunity to do something for fun. I love that I can play with all my friends and have fun" says Morgan Myers, now a part of the senior division in Challenger baseball.

Challenger is specifically for those with special needs. A physical or developmental disability perhaps. You probably didn't know, but here in Syracuse we are home to the largest single Challenger baseball division. It's also one of the oldest of its kind.

For these kids, watching their classmates play in a "regular" little league was painful, that is until Challenger baseball changed their lives forever.

"Yes, it's different than regular baseball, but don't underestimate it!" Morgan adds.

"I remember the first game that Elise ever had. A lot of family came out to watch her and I think we all had tears in our eyes that day watching her hit the ball and run the bases" says Ann Marie Balch, mother of a Challenger little leaguer.

While the Challenger league is truly a dream come true, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome.

Some are pretty surprising.

For example, when you think of someone in your life or society in general that has been afflicted with a handicap the first thought in the mind of most is to help that person.

Even in an airport, those with special needs board a plane first.

So why is it, that special needs baseball players are forced to play last?

The way it currently stands, Challenger baseball must wait until the traditional little league season is over. Even when that happens, they have to wait and see what fields are available.

The result?

Special needs kids are forced to play in the brutal humidity of the summer and most often, are forced to play at different fields nearly every game.

"My son has a severe kidney disorder and has severe edema at times so if it's 95 degrees outside he can't be out in the heat standing around he has to be home inside with his feet up. So we miss games...many of our kids miss games. Because they have medical conditions, the heat, they can't take it" says Jennifer Savastino, a special needs mom.

There is however, light at the end of the tunnel perhaps.

A plan is currently on the table that would change an empty plot of land that was donated by Carrier to the Town of DeWitt into a "Challenger Field of Dreams"

The plan would be home base for Challenger baseball but rest assured would serve all little league in Central New York. Including the ability to host tournaments for baseball and several other sports that include, but aren't limited to, lacrosse, softball, soccer, football and field hockey.

The proposed Field of Dreams is more than just a pie in the sky idea, it has plenty of momentum.

In fact, their will be a "Baseball Bash" fundraiser on June 7th at The Oncenter, that's in addition to a Family Fun Day this Saturday at the future Field of Dreams site.

You can read more about the project and the effort to give these kids a home field at long last, at