tampabay.com

There's no saying 'I can't' with these ballplayers

The Devil Rays make a big play when they give batting and fielding tips to youngsters with disabilities at the Trop.

By JON WILSON
Published August 9, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - The kids took their cuts, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays helped and it was everyone's good day for a ball game.

About 100 youngsters with disabilities Saturday learned about baseball at Tropicana Field.

The kids are members of the Miracle League and Little League's Challenger Division, organizations that give disabled youngsters a chance to play the game.

Saturday they made the most of it, getting to talk to and be coached by major-league players and learning what it feels like to be on a major-league field.

"Every child had a chance to play," said Eddie Lee, who directs the Miracle League. The players gave batting and fielding tips tailored to their audience, and sometimes circled the bases with the youngsters.

The event was another in the Devil Rays' various community outreach efforts. Also present were members of the wheelchair softball team the Devil Rays sponsor.

Lee singled out Devil Rays Chad Harville and Josh Paul for special praise. He said the two stayed at the event for two hours, helping the youngsters and then remaining to "sign every scrap of paper, shirt, cap, whatever they brought."

Harville, a pitcher, and Paul, a catcher, "could not have been greater through this situation," Lee said. "A lot of young men would have been uncomfortable, you would have thought they did this for a living."