Owen Wrassman saw a need in Cincinnati and acted to meet it.
In his position as president of the Cincinnati Reds Community Fund since the organization began in 2001, Wrassman has worked with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission on improving more than 260 baseball fields. Through that work, he learned about the Adaptive Baseball Program, a league for disabled children in wheelchairs and walkers who play on regular dirt fields for 14 weeks. However, inclement weather only allowed for a few games a season for the more than 100 participants, as wheelchairs and walkers were unable to navigate muddy fields.
To address that situation, in 2007, he initiated a nonprofit called Miracle League of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, which is a franchise of Miracle League, a national organization that assists in the construction of baseball fields with rubber surfaces for the disabled. The local nonprofit was created with members of the Reds Community Fund and the Rotary Club of Cincinnati, which launched a capital campaign to raise $1 million to construct a field at Dunham Recreation Center in Price Hill. And with his contacts with the Reds, Reds Foundation, the Therapeutic Recreation Group, the Rotary Club and the city of Cincinnati, Wrassman formed a board of five to assist in the campaign.
With the blessing of his employer, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., where he serves as first vice president, Wrassman reached out for contributions and in-kind donations. After raising about $650,000, he hired GBBN Architects and HGC Construction — which worked with very little margin — and began overseeing construction of the field in 2008.
Phase one included the basic field and fencing, dugouts and handicapped-accessible parking, enough to allow the children to begin playing in 2009. Two seasons in, they have played 14 games each season, with none cancelled due to an unplayable field. Phase two will begin soon and will include a pavilion, restrooms, concessions, lights and a scoreboard.
As a result of Wrassman’s dedication, the belief that “Every kid should have the opportunity to play baseball” continues to ring out as the motto of Miracle League of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
How to reach: Miracle League of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, www.miracleleaguegreatercincinnati.org or (513) 739-1115.