CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - The sport of baseball is expanding across the greater Charlotte area by giving more opportunities to players with autism and special needs.
"I've always had a passion for the sport of baseball but due to my autism diagnosis I couldn't participate in the traditional sport," explained Taylor Duncan from the dugout of a baseball field in Gaston County.
While he's always love the game the sport hasn't always shown him the same love. Determined to make a difference and provide opportunities for others he launched a non-profit baseball league.
Alternative Baseball Organization has been a hit in other cities which is why Duncan is motivated to keep expanding. He serves as the CEO, and he's only 23.
"We are going to keep growing. All communities need this option because no person deserves to be denied the opportunity to play traditional sports based on pre-conceived notions," said Duncan.
Skyler Stevens, 19, shines on the mound. He's proud to be back on a team.
"I played baseball for eight years with my dad, and we played here," said Stevens, who is member of the Carolina Fireflies.
The league is a grand slam of an idea to his mom and biggest fan, Heather Stevens.
"For everyone to get an opportunity to shine and be a part of a team is important because it brings out the best in everyone," said Heather Stevens. "It's a misconception people with special needs don't want to be a part of a team or win."
Duncan is teaming up with the Illumination Foundation of North Carolina. The group connects people of different abilities to the community. Charlotte Moore, with the foundation, hopes to recruit more players for the Carolina Fireflies.
"A lot of times people will say we will let that slide because they are special. Not in this league," explained Moore.
The league plays by major league baseball rules. The only exception is they use a larger ball to accommodate all skill levels.
The team is in need of equipment, players and volunteers. Duncan hopes to recruit more people to start more teams in other neighborhoods across the city.
"It's a dream of mine to be able to provide more opportunities," said Duncan.
A dream that is coming true one team at a time.
"There is no 'can't' here," said Duncan.
The program is for teens and adults with autism and other special needs. Players must be 15 and up. To learn more, click here.