From the outside, George and Amy Mercer's support of the new Miracle League Parker County may seem like just another philanthropic venture. But it goes beyond that for the often-generous couple.
“We want to support and provide for people in our community; and I think you’re never closer to God than when you are providing for the least of these,” George said Saturday as he addressed a large crowd of both fans and supporters at the facility's grand opening.
Located at the 2300 block of Tin Top Road, the facility is dedicated to those with special needs and was built after the Mercers agreed to underwrite the majority of the field's construction with a $500,000 contribution.
“My son, Vincent, is a special needs child who 'aged out' of the Challenger League,” George said. “It’s hard to tell somebody that’s 22 years old that he can’t play baseball because he’s too old. I didn’t think that was right, so we decided to do something about it.”
George said he and Amy felt Miracle League was the best product to meet the challenges children and adults like Vincent live with.
"They provided us with the engineering and drawings and support - everything; what a great franchise!” he said. “They did so much for us and that’s why we have this 'field of dreams' here...because of them.”
Looking at its completion, Mercer said it fills his heart with pride that he and his wife could donate the land the field was built on for a single purpose, "to make sure every child and young adult get a chance to play ball and feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves.”
"This is for Vincent and others," George said. "For them, one day a week, to come play baseball and be kids and have the support of the community.”
Former Texas Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg, who attended the opening, said he thinks of two things when he looks at the facility.
“I think of community and how much I love that,” he said. “Then, I think of the movie Chariots of Fire when the elite character in the movie's sister was trying to tell him he needed to go into the mission field. But he told her when he ran he sensed 'God’s pleasure.'”
Sundberg, now 64, said that’s what he sensed looking at the field - God’s pleasure.
“That’s really what I felt most of my career and when I look on a field like this,” he added. “I sense God’s pleasure in the opening of this and Him looking down at the kids as a gift. Not...with special needs, but as a gift.”
For more information visit their website and register or to help: www.miracleleagueparkercounty.com to follow them on Twitter @MLParkerCo