Man looks to start area baseball team for people with autism

WWNY Man looks to start area baseball team for people with autism

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Anyone can love baseball, but not everyone can play. That's why one man is looking to bring what he calls an alternative baseball team to Watertown, so people of all abilities can take a swing at America's pastime.

If it were a normal summer, we'd be seeing baseball teams across the area swinging, striking, and stealing bases.

But with as many teams as there are in the north country, there isn't one specifically for autistic or otherwise disabled players.

One man from Georgia is looking to change that.

Taylor Duncan was diagnosed with autism at age 4. Growing up, he noticed there weren't many opportunities for him to play baseball, so he decided to do something about it.

“It was time for me to provide this authentic experience for others just like myself who just want to be accepted for who we are and encouraged to be the best we can possibly be,” he said.

So Duncan founded the Alternative Baseball Organization. He now has 30 teams across 14 states and is hoping to add the north country to that list.

"We're trying to expand our base across the northeast region so we can start area leagues. Maybe they can go to Binghamton, maybe they can go to the capital region, maybe they can go to Jersey City where we're already setting up a program in Hudson County," he said.

Duncan says it's much more than just a game.

"Our players learn the social skills, how to play together as a team. They learn the strategical thinking skills, how to communicate and how to work together and those are skills that are absolutely, 100 percent vital to one's success," he said.

Local disabled persons representatives say there would be no shortage of interest.

"There's lots of folks who live here who have autism spectrum disorders so that leaves a lot of candidates to play on the team. So it's a great opportunity. We certainly will be promoting it among the folks we know," said Aileen Martin, Northern Regional Center for Independent Living executive director.

Duncan says his goal is to serve every community he can and to get the ball rolling on a team here.

We first need volunteers and a coach. Then it's batter up.

"When we put aside the perception, when we support each other to become successful, there is so much more in this world, so much more in this society that we can accomplish together," he said.

On and off the diamond. To volunteer or learn more, go to alternativebaseball.org.

Games won't happen until gatherings/sports are allowed again.

Duncan says he's using this time without baseball to expand his organization and get more teams signed up, so when baseball can return, there will be more alternative teams ready to go.

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