In 2005, George O’Donnell visited the Rotary Club of Murrysville-Export to talk about how he has been organizing individuals with disabilities to play baseball, go bowling and fish at an annual fishing derby. What he did not expect that when he shared his dreams of one day building a Miracle League Baseball field that he would see his wishes come alive.
The Miracle League of Western PA was formed in 2005 with the goal of providing a field and league structure so that individuals of all ages with special needs could play organized baseball. But George had a bigger dream to include other sports.
In the fall of 2005, the Rotary Club of Murrysville-Export took on the task to make this a reality. Rotary partnered with Astorino Architects to come up with a conceptual design to pave the way to create the Rotary Miracle Sports Complex of Murrysville. Eventually, the partnership expanded to include the Municipality of Murrysville who offered the complex a future home in the Community Park.
After more than seven years and much effort, Opening Day for the Miracle League of Western PA was on September 22, 2012 with 4 teams playing. The inaugural fall 2012 season was made up of a 6 week schedule with games on Saturday. In October, a small group gathered to take advantage of our Freegame court and begin learning and playing soccer.
After a successful first season, the league expanded its offerings and added a Competitive Division to go along with the Miracle Division in the spring of 2013. The spring season grew to 89 players and 6 teams; two Competitive Division and 4 Miracle Division. The spring allowed us to grow to games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings as well as 3 games on Saturday over an 8 week period. The number of volunteers has steadily increased. The spring season saw a lower number of buddies as schedules became more involved.
Today, we have over 170 players with 6 Miracle Division teams and 4 Advanced Skills teams. So
that players get two opportunities to play each week, we have games on Monday through Friday
and five games on Saturday. Over 70 volunteers help to make the games a success. Our players
represent 50 zip codes from the Western Pennsylvania area.
The sports complex includes:
- The Bill Mazeroski Miracle Field for Baseball
- The UPMC Freegame Court for basketball, soccer and other activities
- Fully accessible walking trail
- Picnic pavilion
- Concession and restroom facility
We have broadened our goals and looked at new initiatives to keep our players together year-
round. In 2022, we launched a late winter baseball camp indoors. Our players and families loved
the opportunity to get out on a cold day and begin warming up for the Spring season. The
program followed the concepts of the Pirates Fantasy Camps offered in prior years throughout
the greater Pittsburgh area.
Also in 2002, we established the first ever community based Rotaract Club in the greater
Pittsburgh region with 21 players 18 years and older and another 10 mentors. The club is part of
Rotary International where the members have the opportunity to meet twice each month
throughout the year. The members do service projects and invite community leaders to speak
with them. They work together with the Rotary Club of Delmont-Salem. Barbara Bonner, a
mother of a player, liked the idea that they could continue meeting for fun and fellowship outside
of the Spring and Fall seasons. Rotary was anxious to include our players in time where
everyone is thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion.