Buddy Baseball

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The thrill of hitting a ball and rounding the bases is available to children and adults with special needs, thanks to Buffalo Grove’s Buddy Baseball program through the Buffalo Grove Recreation Association.

Buddy Baseball started in 1994 and celebrated its 25th anniversary this past summer, said League Director Allen Katz. While the league uses Buffalo Grove Park District facilities, it is not a park district program.

Buddy Baseball averages around 50 players per season, with two junior teams for ages 5-14 and two senior teams for ages 15 and up. There is no age limit for senior players.

The league provides each player with a “buddy,” a volunteer age 11 or older, who accompanies the player throughout the game. Buddies help players bat if needed, and run the bases with the players. If the player uses a wheelchair, the buddy pushes the chair.

Everyone gets a turn at bat, Katz said. “We don’t keep score. We don’t have outs. Each players gets a chance to hit the ball. It’s just for fun; that’s our mission.”

Games are played at Twin Creeks Park on a rubberized field painted to look like a baseball diamond. Players sit in dugouts; parents cheer.

Most importantly, Katz noted, players learn to focus at batting and fielding. “It gives them confidence, shows their ability, not disability, and makes them proud.”

What’s gratifying for Katz is “the smiles on their faces when they hit the ball. They smile all around the bases.”

The league is like a large family, with buddies and players forming a strong bond and looking forward to their time together on the field. Some pairs even hang out together off the field, Katz noted. “It’s amazing to watch everyone come together to support the kids.”

The season ends with an All-Star game, and all players receive trophies. “They are all All-Stars,” Katz said.

The program is not limited to Buffalo Grove residents, Katz said. All interested players from around the suburbs are welcome. The fee is $75 per season and includes a uniform of pants, jersey and a hat.

For more information on Buddy Baseball, email Katz at
allendkatz@gmail.com.