Alternative Baseball is an “authentic baseball experience for teens 15 and up, and adults with autism and other disabilities to gain social and physical skills for success in life on and off the diamond,” Duncan said. There are now Alternative Baseball clubs in more than 30 states, and virtual recruitment has begun for a 2021 season.
The program is looking for volunteer coaches, managers, players and other volunteers to get the ball rolling on Alternative Baseball in the Miami Valley. In addition to wanting to bring inclusivity to the area, having a Dayton program would mean the Alternative Baseball team in Columbus would no longer need to travel to Detroit or another out-of-state city for every game.
Interested players of any skill level are encouraged to join. For more information on joining the program and how to participate, visit alternativebaseball.org.
The program follows Major League rules, using wood bats. It allows base-stealing and running to first base on a dropped third strike. It’s a true team experience for people on the autism spectrum or for those with other special needs, according to a release.
“We take them (players) from where they start out at — whether they require to be pitched to slow overhand or hit off the tee — and help develop their physical and social skills,” Duncan said. “Any help is appreciated. … I look forward to one day having the opportunity to serve (the Dayton) community for hopefully many years to come.”
Duncan is on the autism spectrum himself, and grew up with a lack of options. He wasn’t able to participate in competitive sports due to developmental delays and social stigmas from people who, Duncan said, thought he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his athletic goals.
After graduation from high school, services and opportunities for people with autism often plateau or even stop in many areas. Especially in a lot of suburban and rural areas, Duncan said, there are no services for people to continue their path toward independence. Many people have travel to find limited services that may or may not meet their specific needs.
“With the help of my mom, teachers, mentors, and coaches who believed in me, I’ve gotten to where I am today in my life,” Duncan said.
Duncan’s life goal is to inspire, raise awareness, and acceptance for autism and special needs globally through the sport of baseball.
In 2019, the program was commemorated as a “Community Hero” at an Atlanta Braves game.