“If you build it … they will come.” In the movies, Ray Kinsella heard those words emanating from his cornfield and built his “Field of Dreams.”
Taylor Duncan is following his own baseball dreams.
“If you have a dream, don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t,” he says.
Duncan is 25 years old and he has autism. He also loves the game long embraced as the American pastime. So when he couldn’t find the right team for him, he built his own. And that has turned into a league of his own.
Through his Alternative Baseball Organization (ABO), a league with 80 teams in 34 states, he’s working to help people with special needs across the country find friendships, community and support on the field.
“We accept everyone for who they are,” Duncan says.
Diagnosed with autism at age 4, and with attendant speech, sensory and anxiety issues, Duncan was encouraged by his parents, teachers and mentors to pursue his diamond dreams. At age 12, he joined a youth baseball league, but the following year, a new coach took over and cut Duncan from the team, terming the young man an injury risk.
In 2016, Duncan founded ABO to offer opportunities for players on the autism spectrum and age 15 and up to play ball.
“It’s about forming the friendships and being able to get out there and work on those teamwork skills,” Duncan says. “Learning how to deal with winning, losing and other situations that may happen as the game goes along. Because no two games are exactly the same. There’s always something to learn every single day.”
One game in particular has the league commissioner excited. In November of 2022, a team of ABO players is scheduled to play an exhibition game in Chattanooga, Tennessee, against a team of former, and perhaps even a few current, professional players.
“We want to be given the same exact opportunities as everybody else in society, and this is the perfect way to show it,” Duncan said.
Those interested in volunteering, umpiring or just learning more about Alternative Baseball can go to www.alternativebaseball.org for more information.
After all, Duncan stresses, “there’s never a dull moment in Alternative Baseball.”
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