A couple of years ago AT Mom and I were invited to bring J to watch a friend play Challenger League Baseball. J was absolutely hooked. From the moment we arrived and even before we were fully settled into the bleachers, J was glued to the fence watching all of these kids playing baseball. J had already been exposed to MLB on television (that’s another story for another time), but this was the first time J got to see other kids, including kids with similar challenges, playing the game. I think the kids who happened to be wheelchair users captured J’s imagination the most. One of our favorite pictures of J is one that AT Mom captured of J standing in a gait trainer that is pressed up against the fence. J’s head is beautifully upright watching the play on the other side of the fence.
Unfortunately, J was too young to play at that time. A couple of years later though, J got to play baseball for the Blue Jays. The first couple of games made it apparent that J’s favorite part of the game was batting. J’s favorite position was Designated Hitter – I guess it was a good thing we were on an American League team.
Fielding was a difficult part of the game for J. Being a chair user added some challenges to fielding the ball, but those could be overcome with a fielding aide (AT Dad had to dust of my old baseball skills). However, more than that was the impact of J’s Cerebral Palsy on wearing a glove. The nature of J’s tone made wearing a typical baseball glove inappropriate. I took my lead from some of the other parents and help J put a baseball glove on one of the armrests of J’s wheelchair. I knew there had to be a better way so during one of the games I started talking with some of those other parents about ways to adapt a baseball glove for our kids.
The solution that I came up with was based on an adaptation done by J’s OT I wrote about earlier (AT <3s Velcro). The simple idea was to attach some hook Velcro to the inside of the heel of the glove. J could then wear the left Velcro sensitive splint when fielding. The hook Velcro sticks to the splint and J does not need to hold the glove on.
J’s adapted glove. You can see a bit of the white hook Velcro pad.
I happened to choose some industrial hook Velcro. I was hoping that the “industrial” nature would include a strong adhesive that would help keep the Velcro attached to the glove. Also, the hook side of the Velcro is made up of what appears to be a lot of tiny pyramids – so it is not as abrasive against bare skin.
Opening up the glove for a better view of the white hook Velcro pad.
I cut a patch wide enough to cover most of the inside of the heel of the glove. This would increase the surface area of the Velcro touching the Velcro sensitive splint. As an added benefit it has meant I have to be less precise when helping J put on the glove during those days that J’s tone is less cooperative.
A better picture of the hook Velcro pad attached to the inside of the heel of the glove.
The glove I had purchased for J at the beginning of the season was a tee ball glove that had a wrist strap that was fastened by Velcro itself. That meant I could open up the wrist strap completely when helping J put on the glove, exposing my Velcro adaptation for easy use.
Helping J put on the glove before taking the field.
Now during inning changes instead of putting J’s fielding glove on an armrest of J’s wheelchair I help J put it on. I start by helping J put on the left Velcro sensitive hand splint. Then I open the wrist strap of the baseball glove and help J place J’s palm centered on the hook Velcro pad inside the baseball glove. I then help J tuck J’s thumb inside the glove. Finally, I close the wrist strap of the baseball glove and help J tuck fingers inside the baseball glove. J seems to like keeping that pointer finger outside the glove like the pros do.
J wearing the glove and ready to take the field. Note the pointer finger outside the glove just like the pros!
We then wheel out to the field and take our position (usually around second base). During the inning it is not uncommon for J’s fingers to come out of the glove. That would have resulted in the glove falling off in the past; however, thanks to the Velcro adaptation the glove stays on J’s hand.
J ready to field any grounders towards second base.
Now when we are in the field, J and I charge every ball put into play towards second base. We cover second base and back up first base on just about every other play. With all that running we no longer spend any time going back to pick up a dropped glove. Fielding has become a bit more exciting for J with all the running and activity; however, J still prefers to bat. I guess I know where J falls on the age old Designated Hitter debate. It looks like the AT household will be an American League household.
J taking a break between batters.