About the Challengers

If you stop by Bettenhausen Park at night during the weekdays through the months of May & June you will find the true spirit of baseball.  The Tinley Park Bobcat Challengers is a division for athletes and their families who do not allow developmental disabilities prevent them from participating in the national pastime.  The summer tradition which was founded by Mike & Nancy Berkery in 1995 with 9 original baseball players.  The goal is simple…give everyone a chance to play baseball.  This league is not about competition; rather, it is about something greater…sportsmanship, teamwork, and accomplishment.

Coach Rich Granata states there are over seventy five players signed up this year, ranging in age from 5 to 31 years old.  “We have many different special baseball players with diagnoses including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Angelman Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome, Neurofibromatosis, and many, many more.” quotes Coach Granata.  “Each player is an All-Star and will play in an end of the year All Star Game.”

Rich Granata reports that beyond following basic safety rules, the Challenger Division tailors certain rules to the skill level of the players; however, the games are played on their own baseball field, with their own equipment, and uniforms. The teams are supported by coaches and young volunteers.  The “buddy system” is useful when assistance is needed while ballplayers are at bat or on the field.  Buddies help by providing wheelchair propulsion for rounding the bases or by chasing a hard hit ball on the field.  Most importantly…there are no strikes, no outs; everybody plays, everybody wins!

Each week the Challenger teams are scheduled to face an opposing team within their age range from the surrounding community. The opponent can be in-house team, a local travel team, a local softball team, or the varsity baseball team from Andrew High School. Game times are 6:00 PM, and 7:30 PM.  Stop by to cheer these ballplayers.  If your child with special needs would like to become a Bobcat Challenger, visit the Bobcats’ home on the web at www.tinleyparkbobcats.org.  There are no fees to join; the Bobcats want every child to experience pulling together as a team, being cheered on by the fans, encouraging his/her teammates, and being encouraged by his/her teammates.  Denis Murphy summarizes “Tinley Park Bobcat Baseball encompasses the entire spectrum, from Challengers to Full Time Travel, we have it all.”  Let’s play ball!!

Challengers are for children 5 years old and up, boys & girls, with special needs.