Challenger Baseball a hit with players, families

by Dan Holland

Northeast Ohio Challenger Baseball, an adaptive sport division of Little League Baseball for children and young adults with disabilities, kicked off its 32nd season May 19 at Diamonds 2 and 3 of The Fields of Broadview Heights.

The league was founded on a national level in 1989, with a local chapter founded in 1992-1993 in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights area. The league paused for two years during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started with nothing following the hiatus,” said League President Brian Wolf, who also serves as a Broadview Heights Councilman. “The Lions Club gave us money, and we were able to get two teams out on the field – kind of bare bones. Two years later, we now have four teams – a total of 34 players with [up to nine players] per team. With the smaller teams, players get to bat faster and they’re out in the field for less time. We’re just really looking forward to another great season.”

In addition to the Broadview Heights Lions Club – along with the Legion of Doom at Bloodview Haunted House – funding over the years has also come from the Brecksville American Legion Post 196, local organizations, individual donors and fundraising events, according to Wolf.

A fundraiser for the league, held May 18 at the American Legion Hall in Brecksville, helped raise $20,000, according to Wolf. The event included more than 60 raffle baskets donated by various businesses, sports teams and individuals. Five grand-prize winners split a $2,500 reverse raffle prize.

Funds help subsidize the cost of the program for families, which includes hotel room stays for state tournaments and an end-of-season all-star game and banquet.

The Broadview Heights Department of Parks & Recreation coordinates with the league to provide the fields.

A parent or “buddy” pairs up with all players both at the plate and in the field. An automated batting machine – for those unable to swing a bat – can be used during games, in addition to a “beeper” ball that emits a sound for vision-impaired players.

This year’s event kicked off with seasoned player Ava Hamilton singing the National Anthem.

Broadview Heights residents Dan and Christine Boyle have been involved in the league for more than a dozen years.

“We played with our daughter Courtney for many years, and now with our son, Kevin,” said Dan Boyle. “We enjoy just being able to be with friends; being able to do something that a typical kid may be able to do. And all of our friends out here can do it as well.”

Paul and Daisy Park of Brecksville participated for the first time with their sons, John and Nathaniel.

“This is our first time coming out,” said Paul Park. “We’re just wanting [John] to have fun along with all the others here today.”

Becky Jones of Strongsville brought her daughter, Jensen, to her first game in the league.

“This is her first game, and it’s been really amazing,” said Becky. “They’re all included, and she gets to learn the game as well.” 

For more league information, visit ∞

Conner Nary of Hinckley runs to first base.

Henry Pastor takes his turn at the tee while his father, Joe Pastor, looks on. Photos by Dan Holland.

Photo (main/above): Paul and Daisy Park of Brecksville enjoyed the day at the ballpark with their sons, Nathaniel and John. Photo by Dan Holland.