In an unprecedented display, the Miracle League of Mercer County will be celebrating its diversity and unity in what the league is calling “WHITEOUT Week 2019” during its games scheduled for Wednesday, October 9th and Friday, October 11th. For these night games, everyone attending – players, coaches, volunteers, and parents/fans – must wear all white. The idea, Executive Director Dan Sczweck says, is to promote that – while everyone is uniquely different – there is far more that connects people.
“It started with a drone picture we took last year at the field,” said Sczweck. “As the drone zoomed out and went higher into the sky, you did not see different abilities or limitations, all you saw were people – undiscernable. I just loved that thought. It’s what our league is all about. It does not matter what specific traits you have, we’re all cut from the same cloth.”
The next step, then, was creating an event that the league had never done before.
“It’s no secret I am a huge Penn State football fan. One of the amazing things they do each season is they pick one game and ask all 107,000 fans to show up wearing white. It’s a remarkable sight, and a terrific sign of togetherness. I borrowed the idea and decided that – moving forward – we would do this every year as well.”
There will be a full schedule of games next week. Wednesday night will feature the White Sox and Mets at 6:15 p.m., and the Phillies and Cardinals at 7:15 p.m. Friday night will have matchups between the Astros and Athletics at 6:15, and Red Sox versus Yankees at 7:15.
It will be a full community event, as volunteer groups from all over the area continue to sign up to spend time with the Miracle League players. WHITEOUT week will feature the Central Jersey Rebels, Mercer Makos Baseball, and TCNJ Baseball.
According to Sczweck, volunteer involvement has never been higher, with groups like New Jersey Manufacturers not only coming out – but offering to make longer term commitments over multiple years; which is great, considering player participation has begun to explode.
“We have eight teams for this fall season, with 90 players,” Sczweck said. “We’ve never had that many for the fall session. We’re anticipating 10 teams for the spring at this point, and we’ve had over 110 active participants in 2019. It’s not unreasonable to think we’ll be hitting 200 players in the very near future.”
WHITEOUT Week is just a celebration of what already is, says Miracle League Senior Committee Member Gia Graham.
“Miracle League feels like home. It is a safe place for players, volunteers, families, and fans. The diversity is what makes the family whole and fulfilled. We all come together to do what we love, to watch and play baseball.”
Senior TCNJ baseball player Gary Otten – whom along with recent graduate and teammate Tommy McCarthy helped organize the partnership between their team and MLMC that started this summer – agrees. “We are excited and thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Miracle League WHITEOUT this fall. Having a portion of our players coach this summer, we are excited to introduce to the rest of our program this phenomenal organization. We look forward to working with and further developing relationships with the players, coaches, and families.”
Each player and coach will receive a commemorative WHITEOUT 2019 shirt and hat. Volunteers, family, and friends are all being asked to wear white as well. Extra shirts and hats will be available for purchase for $10. There will also be copies of the book “Tommy: A Tribute to America’s Favorite Bat Boy” available for $20. All money raised will go directly to supporting the Miracle League’s operational costs.
Anyone is welcome to attend, and Sczweck encourages it.
“You have to see what this league is with your own eyes. Once you do, it changes you. Our players may not have the opportunity to play for a state title, an NCAA championship, or a World Series ring; so what we do – this WHITEOUT – is all that more important. We need fans to pack the field and just cheer. We need to give our players the opportunity to experience their own October baseball moment. So wear your white, buy a Tommy book and some MLMC merchandise – and if you are feeling really giving – decide to volunteer.”
For more information on the Miracle League visit www.miracleleaguemercer.org or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @mlmcnj