SALT LAKE CITY -- The 2011 Triple-A All-Stars played a game before the game, taking the field at Spring Mobile Ballpark on Tuesday to accompany members of the Miracle League, a group of inspiring young kids with a passion for baseball that transcends their physical disabilities.
Big plastic bats and even bigger hearts were on display for a couple innings as the Minor Leaguers hustled around the bases, sometimes trying to keep up with the kids. All of them play in the league sponsored by the Shriners Hospital for Children.
"It puts everything in perspective," said Las Vegas pitcher Brad Mills. "I know that sounds kind of cliché, but it just shows you that there's a lot more to life than baseball and there are people with greater struggles and needs than what we're going through on the field. So it's really kind of cool to put that in perspective."
Mills, along with Tucson's Aaron Cunningham, circled the bases with 11-year-old Lincoln J., a second baseman and Salt Lake Bees fan.
"We play a season, but not here," said Lincoln, looking around Spring Mobile Ballpark. "I listen to the Bees on the radio. I just like the team."
The feeling is mutual.
"They do have a lot of spirit," said Salt Lake third baseman Jeff Baisley. "It makes you feel fortunate to get out there and share in it with them."
Lincoln offered his advice for other young athletes who may get an opportunity to play with their heroes:
"Do the best. Nothing better than the best!"
The Miracle League was founded in Georgia in 1998 as a way to give children with disabilities the opportunity to dress in uniforms, play baseball and be part of a team. Every player bats once each inning, all players are safe on bases and every player scores a run before the inning is over. This marks the third season of the Miracle League in Utah.