Batter Up

Miracle League of the Triangle

Players never strike out, are guaranteed to score a run, and get to choose their own walk-up tunes.

That’s how things work at Miracle League of the Triangle, where children and adults with special needs experience the thrill of crossing home plate.

“I’m Jack, ‘The Hammer,’” said Jack Yarborough of Cary, a nickname he’s earned for his power swing, which consistently sends the ball over the fence.

Jack’s dad and team coach, Frank Yarborough, said, “The Miracle League has been life changing for us. It’s such a great time. The kids believe in themselves, and baseball is a tool for them to achieve amazing things.”

Established in Cary in 2006 by businessmen Robin Rose and Tony Withers, the nonprofit is one of 250 Miracle League organizations worldwide offering America’s favorite pastime to those with special needs, in a safe, accepting environment.

“Kids are celebrated here,” said Director of Baseball Operations Cyndy Vagle, who’s mom to player Aaron. “What I like best is that it encourages kids to achieve at their maximum level, and puts big smiles on their faces.

At bat is Emily “Violin Girl” Wollum, so dubbed for her off-field musical pursuits. Miracle League of the Triangle is a family affair for the Wollums: Emily’s brother Christopher serves as catcher during this impromptu practice session and her buddy during games, while dad Steve pitches. 

“Everybody becomes a big family, and makes connections,” she added. “Parents of special needs children are used to fighting for their kids. I tell them, ‘You don’t have to advocate here — relax. We’re here to serve you.’ There’s that level of acceptance.”

Vagle recalls one Miracle League player who halted a game in order to allow another child to complete his first-ever trip around the bases on foot rather than in a wheelchair.

“There was so much cheering, and not a dry eye in the place,” Vagle said. “Thousands of miracle moments happen on this field.”

For Emily Wollum of Cary, dubbed “Violin Girl” for her off-field musical pursuits, Miracle League has become a family endeavor: Dad Steve coaches, mom Tonya cheers, and brother Christopher serves as her buddy — each player is paired with a volunteer buddy during games.

“The league is great for families,” Steve said, “and it lets kids be kids.”

Get In the game

Serving about 400 players each season, ages 5 and up, the Triangle league in 2015 also launched adult play and a competitive camp.

Executive Director Benjy Capps, who began his Miracle League journey in 2006 as a volunteer on behalf of his son, Micah, says two goals led to the creation of the adult league.

“One was (to give) the adult population of people with special needs a chance to experience the same things youth do: To belong to a team, enjoy some baseball, and gain confidence as well as exercise.

“Two, our senior league was too full, as it was originally set up for high school players,” Capps added. “We had over 20 players who had graduated but still wanted to be part of the league. This opened more spots in the senior league to be filled by players waiting to move up and new players.

Pictured from left are Jack Yarborough, Executive Director Benjy Capps, Director of Baseball Operations Cyndy Vagle, and Emily Wollum. 

“We’ve also introduced the Advanced Players Academy, to give the more competitive players a place to learn and play games.”

Vagle manages the league’s volunteers, including 150 coaches, a crucial part of Miracle League of the Triangle.

“We utilize over 6,000 volunteer hours per year and 1,000 individual volunteers. They are very important to our program and how it runs,” Capps said.

From local high school and college baseball teams serving as player buddies, to a 75-year-old coaching grandpa, volunteers ages 12 and older lend a hand on game days and at special events. Training is provided.

Miracle League

The spring season launches on March 22 for adults and April 1 for youth.

For more information on becoming a volunteer, sponsor or player in the league where no one sits the bench, visit


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