ELIZABETH—The fifth annual Play Ball for Miracles went into full swing at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 18, in Warinanco Park, Elizabeth.
Play Ball for Miracles began in 2005, shortly after Patrick Macnab was diagnosed with a bleeding disorder so rare that it still has no name. The tournament benefits Children’s Miracle Network, who in turn, distributes the money to local area hospitals that specialize in children’s care. Over the past four years, Play Ball for Miracles has raised nearly $30,000 for hospitals such Bristol-Myers Squibb Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside.
Opening ceremonies were extended this year to show the importance of the charity work done by Children’s Miracle Network. Coordinator Erin Kelly started off by welcoming everyone to another great year. Then Susanne Macnab followed up by explaining the significance of this year’s tournament. Just weeks after the 2008 tournament took place, her son Patrick, whom the tournament was created to honor, suffered a life-threatening bleed. Macnab said she firmly believes that the love, support and prayers of everyone involved in the tournament are what pulled her then 4-year-old son through an agonizing ordeal.
Patrick threw out the first pitch and the games began. Adam Kerins, of Children’s Specialized Hospital, Nicole Fulmino, Paula Plungis and other members of Children’s Miracle Network were also on hand for the festivities.
Thirty-three teams turned out for this year’s event, which was blessed with perfect ball-playing weather. The Co-Ed division included new teams, such as The Macnasties and Mill Lane, as well as returning teams, Loose Cannons and Wunderbats. Children’s Specialized Hospital entered their team, The Scrubs, as well as Team Charity. Newcomer Evil Hot went on to win the championship.
The Women’s Division featured All Heart, Wakota, Yuengling Lager, In Your Face, Advantage Painting, Wicked Storm (all the way from Suffolk County, Long Island), We Got the Runs (staff members from Children’s Specialized Hospital) and Champion Extreme Impact.
The largest growth for 2009 was seen in the Men’s Division, which went from 12 teams last year to an impressive 18 for 2009. Firemen from the Union Fire Department, Elizabeth Fire Department Local 9, Elizabeth Fire Department Tour 2 House of Pain, Nassau’s Bravest and Hoboken Fire participated. Police and Corrections Officers from Ocean County Corrections, Union County Jail, Elizabeth Police Brokies, Elizabeth Police Ballers, East Jersey State Prison Misfits, and East Jersey State Prison Bombers also played. Other men’s teams included, McLachlan Insurance, Alpha Betas, Jersey Tides, OGB, Caldwell Dental, and the Elizabeth Bombers. The championship trophy was awarded to the uniquely named DA OTHER TEAM!
An abundance of volunteers were on hand selling t-shirts (donated by All Hands Tees), memorial dog tags (donated by KO-Productions) and food and drink (donated by Wakefern and Shop Rite.) The volunteers were also responsible for making sure that the ASA Umpires kept to the 45 minute game time limit and followed the rules of one-pitch tournament play.
For 2009, the spectators were also in for some surprises. A face painter was on hand to entertain the children, and KO-Productions arrived with a NASCAR race track that was enjoyed by young and old alike.
When all 55 games were over, the tournament was a huge success. Though the teams and volunteers were exhausted, everyone seemed to agree that the event was well worth it. PBFM raised $12,250 for 2009. A raffle to support the families of NJ Firefighters who have children with special needs also raised $2,000.
Play Ball for Miracles will be back again for year six on April 17, 2010, according to Kelly.
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