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A league of their own: These special baseball players share a love of the game

Published: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:00 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The players in the Alternative Baseball Organization play for the love of the game.

They cherish every moment on the diamond because until the league came along they were iced out of the action.

The players have autism and other special needs.

“It shows that we are capable of accomplishing a lot of the same things that those who don’t have a disability can accomplish,” ABO founder Taylor Duncan said.

He is the league’s commissioner and he’s also on the autism spectrum. He started the league in 2016 in Atlanta with just six players. Now there are about 20 teams spaced across the mainland.

“We just need the encouragement to help us continue our path toward whatever we dream of doing,” Duncan said.

The 25-year-old jokes that he settled on baseball because it doesn’t have the ball-hogging issues other sports do. And ABO players don’t have to be athletic to reap the benefits of being part of a team and giving it their best shot.

“That’s what we’re there for, to be able to make sure that service is provided for those to continue their social and physical enrichment for life off the baseball diamond,” Duncan said.

Alternative Baseball is trying to start a team on Maui. It needs players and volunteer coaches.

“It’s a great program. Once they leave high school there’s not a lot of opportunity for them to continue with different sports, unless it’s the Special Olympics,” Maui coordinator Scott Keefe said.

He believes that if Maui can field a squad, then it will lead to teams forming on the other islands.

“That’s the goal,” Duncan said.

With pandemic restrictions easing up, he plans to re-start the ABO on the mainland in August.

“We want to get 1,000 players on the field by then,” he said.

When Duncan was a kid, a baseball coach turned him away. As an adult he’s leveling the playing field so people with autism and other developmental challenges can get into the game.

To find out about Alternative Baseball in Hawaii contact Scott Keefe at skeefe1021@aol.com.

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