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NICHOLAS MERCER: Magic on a diamond

A recent documentary about blind baseball got Nicholas Mercer thinking about the game he loves.
A recent documentary about blind baseball got Nicholas Mercer thinking about the game he loves. - FILE PHOTO

To say I am a baseball guy is an understatement. 

Most of my social media profiles include reference to some aspect of the game, a glove and a ball sit on my work desk in front of me, and I own no less than six different Blue Jays fitted hats I wear interchangeably. 

On long drives, I’ll roll the baseball I keep in the front console of my car in my hands to keep from getting bored. 

I’ve never thought what it would be like to not have the game of baseball in my life. 

Last week I saw a short documentary about a baseball league for people with visual impairments. It showed athletes running the bases, hitting a special ball that emits a sound, and fielding a fair ball. 

There were differences, of course. Hitters could run to a sound-emitting cone on either the first- or third-base side of the diamond. If they hit the cone before their ball was fielded by the other team, they scored a run. 

Regardless of the differences, it was baseball. 

These players — male and female — were being given the opportunity to compete and be a part of a team. 
In baseball.

How great is that? 

Seeing blind athletes enjoying baseball in their own way made me smile. And it made me think. 

There is a different feel on a baseball diamond. The feeling doesn’t exist on a football field, at the rink or on a basketball court. 

It seeps through the grass. It spreads from the dugouts and it falls from the lights illuminating the field at night. 

It is the smile of a child running the bases for the first time, or the old man in the stands, scoring the game with pen and paper.

It comes alive in the baseball being thrown between father and son. 

This feeling makes you think the impossible can happen. Think "Field of Dreams" — only in your backyard. 

The unusual happens on a baseball diamond. 

Chalk it up to the baseball gods who govern the game. Their power is never more prevalent than when the leaves start turning and October begins. 

These deities show themselves in leagues like blind baseball.

They show themselves in the Challenger Baseball programs that give disabled children the chance to play. 

Everyone deserves the chance to play.

Deserves their own Moonlight Graham moment, one chance to experience holding a bat or throwing a ball. 

Watching that documentary and seeing the smiling players leads me to believe one thing. 

Baseball is magic. 

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