On Monday nights, Brian pitches for 6 innings. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, he only pitches for 4 innings. Each night. There’s no known person keeping track of his pitch count, no trainer or masseuse at his beck and call, no screen to prevent any injuries from balls hit back up the middle. His daughter, Rachele, is often his battery-mate and she always has to keep a lookout for bats headed her direction.
Brian and Rachele are volunteers at The Miracle League. They’ve been serving and playing and making new friends through the league for the last 5 years.
“I saw an article in the newspaper that said they were needing volunteers, so I sent it to Rachele and asked if she wanted to give it a try,” Brian said.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Rachele said, who now helps coach a team and works as a buddy as well as catch.
They are both Cardinals fans. Brian grew up in St. Louis and cheered on Bob Gibson. A southpaw, Brian brought his first mitt with him, a Red Schoendienst model, and used it for the first few catches…until the 60-year old dried out lacing snapped.
“I used to play softball with this glove!”
Brian also shared stories of occasionally substituting a ping pong ball or a bag of potato chips in place of the league ball as a way of mixing it up and keeping the players on their toes.
Unlike her dad, Rachele throws right handed. Like her dad, Rachele is all smiles and heart when it comes to talking about Miracle League and its players, even if bats occasionally find their way to bruise her shins.
We met at the park just down the street from Caleb’s Redline Athletics. Thankfully, the morning rain stopped and I didn’t have to beg to use his facility for a last minute indoor venue — gotta soak up the sun and enjoy the colorful palette of trees while I can.
What a fantastic way to kick off a fall weekend.