New “Bluefield Rail Birds ABO” to provide baseball team for those with special needs

Bluefield baseball enthusiasts with special needs can soon join a team of their own.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:17 PM EST
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) -A new baseball team will soon be playing at Bowen Field and other area fields that hopes to give a team to a group of people who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to play.

ABO, or “Alternative Baseball,” got its start in Georgia back in 2016, to bring together those age fifteen or older with special needs from autism to deafness. Now, it’s coming to the Two Virginias with a new team: the “Bluefield Rail Birds ABO.” The name and logo of the Rail Birds pays homage to the rich baseball history of Bluefield. Plans to create the community-funded team were announced over the weekend and have already been met with support from many in the area, including some of the team’s future players. Organizers hope this team will give those previously denied the chance to play baseball the chance to partake in America’s Pastime.

“...For years and years and years, they’ve been told no. It is a thing of it’s time to be able to show us what they can do, not what somebody says they can’t do. I keep saying this is an opportunity. This is an opportunity not only for them to play sports, but to be engaged in the community in many different ways...” says Scott Smith, the team’s general manager.

There are no try-outs for the team, but you need to have medically documented special needs and be able to swing a bat and move unassisted. The team is free to join. Sign-ups will take place early next year with practice beginning late April. More information can be found on the Bluefield Rail Birds ABO Facebook page.