JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- The Alternative Baseball Organization is a nonprofit with leagues from Georgia to Arizona, and now they want to launch a league here in the Tri-Cities.
The organization’s goal is to help those with different disabilities.
Taylor Duncan was diagnosed with autism at the age of four and wasn’t able to play America’s pastime on a regular baseball team.
So, Duncan decided to create a league of his own.
“I had speech issues, sensory issues, anxiety issues, but my mother helped me through a lot of those obstacles, but I still faced a lot of social stigmas growing up,” said Duncan.
Now able to play his favorite sport, he decided to start his own baseball league to give others with special needs the opportunity to be accepted for who they are.
“Alternative Baseball provides the ultimate baseball experience for teens and adults ages 15 and older with autism and different disabilities, physical and social skills enrichment in life both on and off the baseball diamond,” explains Duncan on a one-on-one interview with News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant.
One team turned into over a dozen across the country helping teens 15 to adulthood.
“We’re actually capable of so much more than we could have ever imagined,” said Duncan. “If there are no services available in a lot of these areas after they graduate high school, well what are they supposed to do? Autism doesn’t stop at age 18.”
Malcome plays in Georgia on one of the first teams formed in the league.
“His social skills have developed tremendously as a result of this,” said his mom, Michele Parker-Smith.
Parker-Smith also said the team has helped her find parents to relate to.
“Having a parent that understands what you go through on a daily basis, especially having now a 20-year-old man with autism versus having a two-year-old with autism— it’s a difference,” Michele laughs, “You know, I’m pretty vocal when it comes to standing up for my son’s rights. So, it’s been a blessing for me to be able to help the other parents that don’t always have that voice.”
Now Taylor Duncan wants to start up a team here in the Tri-Cities.
“Of course we need that coach/manager; we need volunteers to help that coach out,” said Duncan, “and of course we need the players to serve for the team to be successful in the Tri-Cities area.”
“I think it’s important for the community to really embrace the team itself because it really will bring so much joy to the community and to the players,” said Parker-Smith.
Alternative Baseball already has programs in Nashville, Chattanooga, and Cleveland.
If you would like to help start up a team here in the Tri-Cities, you can email Taylor Duncan at email@example.com.