We play St. Louis Challenger Baseball to make friends!
In early April of 1994 we scheduled our first game of St. Louis Challenger Baseball at Tilles Park, part of the St. Louis County Parks system. We had not idea what we were doing and were just hoping some players would show up. Somehow we’d figure things out. Happily about 14 players showed up. Even though it was April it was so cold that everyone was still wearing a winter coat.
We were just throwing the ball around, getting ready to start the game, when a van pulled up and a girl’s softball team piled out to be our very first buddies. We are so grateful for those buddies because, and this is something among many things we have learned over the years, that buddies might be the most important part of our league. A big part of the fun we had that year is due to those and other buddies that came out that season.
Now and in the Future
We have grown from those first two teams to 60 teams and around 600 players in Missouri and Illinois (see our schedule page), including schools in the St. Louis School district. And we’re always looking for opportunities to bring this to other cities that don’t have a program like this yet. Email email@example.com if you’re interested in starting teams in your area.
Buddies are kids and young adults (between the ages of 10 and 25 who don’t have a disability who hang out with our players on the field, having fun and making friends. Many times the buddies get more out of this than our players. (Another thing we learned.)
It seems like most of our locations are always trying to find more buddies. To be a buddy you don’t have to be good in baseball, or any sport for that matter. Buddies don’t even have to like sports at all. You only have to want to have fun and make some friends as you interact with your players. Just be yourself. Don’t forget to talk with your player, even if they don’t communicate using words. They hear and understand everything you say and love the fact that you are engaging with them. After one game you have made a best friend for life. A friend who is smart, has a great sense of humor, and will care for you and want only the very best for you always.
The Fundamental Goal of Challenger Baseball is to Make Friends
As our players who have disabilities play baseball they have the opportunity to make friends with teammates and their buddies.
Every person regardless of their developmental disability can play Challenger Baseball. Players not only have a great time playing baseball, but also experience pulling together as a team, being cheered by a crowd, and being encouraged by their teammates, and players on the other teams. All players receive a full uniform: jersey, pants, socks and a hat. Players will hang on to their uniforms until the next season when, if you’ve grown, you’ll exchange it for a larger size. (Wear your jersey to school when all of the other kids wear theirs.) And all players get a trophy with their name on it. We’ve known players who wake up with an imprint of their trophy on their face because they slept with it.
How Much Does it Cost
The registration fee is $25. You can use the donate button on this website to pay, or bring cash or a check to a game. If you can’t afford the registration fee we will waive it (nobody will know) and you will play for free. Every person with a developmental disability who wants to play will play Challenger Baseball, no matter what. Nobody will ever be left out of any game or any Challenger activities. We only do things that everybody, regardless of their abilities, can participate in.
Where You Can Find Us
The following teams play in the spring: St. Louis (Tilles Park, at the corner of McKnight and Litzsinger), Pike County, MO (Bowling Green), St. Louis City school district (Gateway Michael Elementary and Nottingham High School), Madison County, IL (Edwardsville), St. Francois County, MO (Farmington), Ste. Genevieve County, MO (Ste. Genevieve), Bond County, IL (Pocahontas), and Jefferson County, MO (Imperial).
These teams play in the fall: Franklin County, MO (Pacific), Ranken Jordan Pediatric Rehabilitation Hospital (Maryland Heights), Bond County, IL (Pocahontas), Jefferson County, MO (Imperial), Perry County, MO (Perryville: coming soon), Nottingham High School and Gateway Michael Elementary School (in the St. Louis City school district), and Southeast Missouri in Sikeston (information to come on this location). Please see the schedule page for addresses and all location schedules!
Briefly How it Works
Beyond following basic safety rules, Challenger baseball tailors the game to the skill levels of the players. We are totally flexible when it comes to what works for our individual players. Challenger players play on the same fields and wear the same full uniforms as traditional teams. Our teams do use a soft baseball, and wiffle balls and bats depending on the skill of the players. We don’t count outs or runs, and every player bats and plays the field each inning.
Teams are supported by coaches and by our buddy system. As our buddies make friends they also assist players if they need it. For example, they might push players who use wheelchairs around the bases after a hit, or they might help a player retrieve a ball that gets past them, among other things. But the most important thing a buddy does is to be a friend to our players.