For the past 15 years a unique group has been playing baseball on Sundays and Tuesdays at H.C. Mines Field in Howland.
The Delphi Baseball Team consists of 26 of the happiest players in baseball. Though the players have mental disabilities, they know how to have fun.
During the team's short two-month season they play about a dozen games with two innings each. Players can have as many chances to hit the ball as they need, and to be fair each player gets to bat twice per inning.
Photos by Allie Vugrincic
Cindy Drotleff bats during Sunday’s game.
This may not be as competitive as most baseball teams, but the players know that you don't have to have a major competition to have fun. They are always enthusiastic and love playing just for the sake of the game. The rules may not be the most important thing in this game, but the players understand the true spirit of baseball.
The team was created by the Rupinsky family when they realized how much fun baseball could be for everyone. "It started with my son, who always enjoyed watching his siblings play ball," said Barb Rupinsky. "It was his time to shine," she added. Barb and her husband George coach the team to this day, along with Vincent Flask.
The team is generously sponsored by Delphi plant 47, which provides the team's shirts. The Howland Athletic Association lends the use of the field to the players and student volunteers from John F. Kennedy High School come to each game to help collect bats and catch balls.
"Working with the players is always the highlight of my week. I have so much fun just watching and having conversations with the players," said Kate Groner, a senior at JFK who has been volunteering with the Delphi Baseball Team for six years. "They truly are the nicest and most amazing people I've ever met."
Players love the chance to get some exercise and make new friends. They especially look forward to their "Under the Lights" game at Burbank Park each year, which is hosted by the Warren Athletic Club. This year's game will be at 8 p.m. next Friday evening.