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Virgen: True victory on a field of dreams

Virgen's View

November 06, 2013|By Steve Virgen
  • Audrey Presby of the Newport Beach Tiger Sharks runs during the Bank of America Orange County Little League Challenger Classic at Angel Stadium.
Audrey Presby of the Newport Beach Tiger Sharks runs during… (Courtesy of Orange…)

The scoreboard at Angel Stadium provided several highlights on Saturday. It wasn't because score was kept, even though there were plenty of runs scored.

Many looked at the scoreboard because of the images on the Jumbotron. There were smiles and unique actions that made many tear up. Something special always seems to occur at the Bank of America Orange County Little League Challenger Classic, a baseball event that is big-time for special-needs children.

On that Jumbotron many saw a kid who pointed his bat deep to the outfield like Babe Ruth once did. Another child moved to first base on his wheelchair guided by a buddy from a local Little League team.

Everyone who didn't play wanted to do their best for the kids to have fun. It wasn't about competition. It was just about pure fun. Just playing or participating was victory. I'm a big fan of this type of baseball.

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Former Angels pitcher Jim Abbott, a Newport Beach resident, was there.

"I know what it's like to be different," said Abbott, who was born without a right hand. "I know what it's like to have to do things differently."

Abbott was one of several who volunteered throughout the day. Abbott played with the children and also delivered a message. He'll always be an all-star in my opinion.

"Coping with a challenge doesn't have to hold you back," said Abbott, speaking into a microphone while being shown on the Jumbotron. "It can push you to find the best part of yourselves. Keep fighting and keep believing. Amazing things are possible in this world. Go show everybody what you can do. OK? Have fun."

We certainly had fun. This was the first year my daughter, Trinity, was a part of the Challenger Classic. She had a blast among the 800 children who participated in the event. The children were from Challenger Divisions in Little Leagues in or near Orange County.

They all got to play in Angel Stadium. There were five "games" that took place in the outfield. The teams had an hour to play which meant at least two at-bats per kid. Krissy Land, the director of the District 62 Challenger Division, also made sure each kid made a play on defense too.

There were even cheerleaders and several volunteers from the main sponsor Bank of America who greeted the kids as they walked onto the field through a tunnel in left field.

"It's an event that has been touching, and emotional and energizing," said Sharon Battle, the Corporate Social Responsibility Market Manager at Bank of America for Orange County.

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