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Alternative Baseball Fielding A Team In Cedar Rapids

Alternative Baseball Organization via facebook
The organization Alternative Baseball organizes leagues across the country for players with autism or other special needs. The group is fielding its first team in the state in the city of Cedar Rapids.

A baseball league for players with autism or other special needs is recruiting a team in Cedar Rapids. After organizing players across the country, the nationwide organization Alternative Baseball is establishing its first team in the state of Iowa.  

Taylor Duncan of Dallas, Georgia, is 23 years old and has autism.  He says he was shut out of youth sports as a kid. From a young age he experienced issues with his speech and anxiety, and social stigma from others.

"I was deemed an injury risk," Duncan said. "I faced a lot of preconceived ideas, perceptions from those who thought they knew what somebody with autism, or really any other difference or disability, can and cannot become capabale of."

Now he’s on a mission to get other players like him on the field. Since founding Alternative Baseball he’s organized 25 teams across the country, from Washington state to Florida to New Jersey.

A self-described baseball purist, Duncan says the teams play under Major League rules, with umpires, base stealing and wooden bats.

“It’s just amazing what they can accomplish when given the opportunity," Duncan said. "I mean it’s not only just teaching the physical skills in the sport but it’s also teaching them the social skills."

Duncan says his mother, teachers, mentors and coaches all believed in him, trusted him, and encouraged him to challenge himself. He says Alternative Baseball is an opportunity to share that encouragement, and that the league is about more than the game itself.

“By providing them the authentic team experience you’re basically giving them a simulation of what’s going to be like when it comes time for them to be hired somewhere, when it’s time for them to go to college," he said.  "All those things are important and it’s best to learn through something you have fun with.”

Duncan is looking for more players, coaches and managers for the Cedar Rapids team, and plans to open the city’s first season this spring. Ultimately he hopes to field more teams across Iowa and is already setting his eyes on the Quad Cities, Iowa City and Sioux City.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter