CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – With a chill in the air at the Keith Family YMCA baseball field, a devoted volunteer calls it like he sees it.
“Brisk day, about 39 degrees,” Ryan Sullivan said.
Sullivan is a volunteer announcer for the Miracle League, which includes players with different abilities.
“Feels like we should be playing ice hockey,” he quipped, perhaps only half-joking.
The Rockies and the Braves took the field on Saturday, Nov. 1, the last day of the season.
“Love to see the enthusiasm,” Sullivan said, holding a microphone as he narrated the game for the crowd.
“Giving a voice to a group that doesn’t always have one,” he said of his role at the games.
Sullivan’s been a Miracle League volunteer since 2018, making every inning feel a little EXTRA.
“To make the players feel like the rock stars they are,” Sullivan said.
“Manny, who loves Legos and rollercoasters,” he informed fans, giving them a little background about the batter at the plate.
“Awesome hit by Manny, out past second, that’ll allow Elijah Wright to score!” he announced with enthusiasm.
“You can’t get anything better than this!” said Natasha Pendergrass, whose brother was playing.
Sullivan’s announcing goes far beyond the runs, hits, and errors.
“The things that he comes up with, he’s renamed my brother Parris Doubleton,” she said.
His name is actually Singleton.
“Parris loves cheese pizza,” Sullivan says, whose style sometimes resembles legendary big league broadcaster Bob Uecker.
“He’s funny, he’s creative, he makes us feel like we’re really at a baseball game. He makes the kids feel really good,” Pendergrass told Queen City News.
“Just having a brother who had grown up using a wheelchair,” said Sullivan, explaining why he believes the Miracle League is important.
His late brother, Boyd, was 12 when a truck hit him as he walked down the sidewalk. Doctors amputated both legs to save his life.
“When I had told [Boyd] about what I do and all the programs available here, he was just thrilled that kids get that experience that he didn’t have,” Sullivan said. “It meant a lot to him to know that it was here and that I was involved in it.”
During our interview, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte asked us to give Ryan some major league news.
“You have been selected for the George Williams Award as outstanding volunteer of the year,” I told him, leaving Sullivan stunned.
“I wasn’t aware of that,” he said. “That’s amazing! I am somewhat speechless.”
He certainly wasn’t speechless for long.
“And super Tae with the super hit! Home run!” Sullivan exclaimed after Kintay Soares of the Braves knocked it out of the park as they edged the Rockies.
“It was like perfect!” Soares said of the moment.
“Being around and helping them have that experience is just magical,” says Sullivan.
“He really makes ’em special, just like they’re the big star player,” Braves veteran Nicholas Batley said.
Sullivan received the Williams Award at a ceremony held at Morrison Family YMCA. He was one of 13 volunteers being honored by local branches of the Y.
“Really takes a community to make this happen,” Sullivan explained to the spectators.
“Thanks for coming, drive home safe,” he said, signing off for the final time in 2023.