How the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields are expanding beyond baseball

It had always been in the back of Kim Nuxhall’s mind to do something with the obstacles at his family’s driving range near Joyce Park after it closed in 2011.

So the giant dinosaur, frog, hippopotamus and vulture from the Joe Nuxhall Golf Center, along with a Frisch’s Big Boy in Reds uniform and a custom life-sized bobble head of a 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall, will be integrated in the nine-hole golf course next to the rubberized fields at the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields at Hatton Park.

“It’s kind of a private club for our kids,” said Nuxhall, speaking of the disabled children and adults who play Friday night and Saturday morning baseball games.

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These disabled athletes — about 150 — will have their own putter and golf ball, and special code to access the fenced-in mini-golf course.

“Their family can bring them down to play anytime they want,” said Nuxhall, chair of the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League board.

Nuxhall hopes the course will be ready by the time they celebrate the seventh anniversary of the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields with the Nuxy Bash, which features a celebrity softball game on July 27.

Joe Nuxhall became the youngest person to play in a Major League Baseball game when he pitched two-thirds of an inning on June 10, 1944 against the St. Louis Cardinals. The eventual Reds Hall of Fame pitcher and announcer from Butler County was 15 years, 10 months and 12 days old.

Joe Nuxhall Miracle League board member Steve Smith said the mini-golf course “goes with our mission.”

“One of the things we talked about as a board is, ‘Do we want just to be a baseball facility, or do we want to do more?”

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Besides the handicapped-accessible course, there are other projects, including an indoor gymnasium, the board and Nuxhall want to accomplish.

“It’s one of those things, before our facility existed, if someone with a disability wanted to participate in a sport, depending on the level of disability, they may not be able to participate,” Smith said. “Everything we do is with the idea they now have that chance.”

And the fields, he said, has brought “joy to their lives.”

“We really wanted to provide a world-class experience with those with special needs,” Smith said. “We’re constantly looking for ways to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.”

The American Physical Therapy Association says it’s important for those living with disabilities to stay active. Being active can help both disabled and able-body people develop stronger hearts, muscles and bones, and improve coordination, according to the association, which says about a fifth of all Americans have a disability.

Each of the nine holes will be sponsored by an area company or organization, and Skidmore Sales & Distributing, a West Chester Twp. business, is the naming sponsor of the mini-golf course. Skidmore Sales CEO Doug Skidmore said they’re “blessed” to be a part of the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Field program.

“Part of our core values is helping others,” he said. “Seeing all the positive energy and compassion they have made at the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League for helping others made this (sponsorship) a good fit for our team.”

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