A decade ago this July, a part of the late Joe Nuxhall’s dream became a reality.
And though the former Cincinnati Reds pitcher and broadcaster never stepped foot inside the Miracle League Fields complex on Groh Lane that bears his name, you can feel Nuxhall’s presence in all corners of the complex, said Ed Hartman, a longtime friend and marketing director for Furniture Fair.
“He’s in the rafters. He’s on the field. He’s in the dugouts. The scoreboards,” said Hartman, who chaired last year’s annual Nuxhall Memorial Golf Outing. “We’re all surrounded by a big hug from Joe, and his family has carried it on, gallantly and lovingly. This is what he wanted.”
The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields debuted on July 28, 2012, just a few days after the formal dedication ceremony.
The 10th anniversary of the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields, which is headquarters for and a mission of the Nuxhall Foundation, will not only see the return of past events canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic but new events. All in the support of the dream of the man affectionally known as the Ol’ Lefthander.
Returning in 2022 will be the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Fields opening day parade next month, the Nuxy Bash this summer, and the Miracle Ball this fall. New in 2022 is the organization’s latest fundraising effort on April 28, Leading Ladies Night Out at Topgolf in West Chester Twp.
“It’s a summer chock full of events, along with the 37th golf outing,” said Nuxhall Foundation Executive Director Tyler Bradshaw.
But the Topgolf fundraiser isn’t the only new feature for the Miracle League Fields. At the April 23 Miracle League Fields opening day parade, the Nuxhall Foundation will unveil a new mascot, whose identity is being kept under wraps until the day of the parade (though a Facebook video shows the new mascot in silhouette).
“Our board had toyed around (with having a mascot) for a long time and how that would play,” said Bradshaw.
Because the organization supports those with physical and developmental disabilities, the mascot will also have a disability, he said.
“We have other mascots that come out to us, and the players really gravitate towards them and get excited, so to be able to provide a mascot just for them, it was important to us,” Bradshaw said.
The mascot will also be used in other Nuxhall Foundation initiatives, such as the Character Education Fund.
“I think there’s a lot of messaging we can do around the mascot in the community,” Bradshaw said.
Another new feature at the field will be the installation of interactive sensory flowers (similar to a steel drum).
“It’s been our thought process all along,” said Nuxhall Foundation President and Board Chairman Kim Nuxhall of the expansion of the complex.
The organization started with two ball fields before two playgrounds were added in different years. Then came a wheelchair-accessible glider, a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round, bocce courts and the 18-hole mini-golf course.
But the biggest project for the field since its construction a decade earlier will be The Hope Center, an indoor facility for those who are physically and developmentally disabled can call home. It was one of the first dreams of Joe Nuxhall.
The project got a $50,000 donation from the Schul family through the Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Bradshaw said the public fundraising campaign will start later this year, and Kim Nuxhall said officials hope to have this building open by 2024.
“(Nuxhall Foundation Vice President) Larry Tischler said it best, ‘If we don’t dream for our kids, who’s going to?’ So we kind of keep that in mind,” Kim Nuxhall said. “And here we are 10 years later, still dreaming.”