2010 PCEP Home Run Derby

2010 PCEP HOME RUN DERBY By Ed Wright, PlymouthCantonSports.com July 12, 2010 http://www.plymouthcantonsports.com/HomeRunDerby.html

Recently graduated Salem baseball player Chris Kordick (left) and local businessman Ted Barker have been catalysts for the PCEP Home Run Derby. (photo by Ed Wright) Pictured above is a Miracle League baseball field located in Moody, Ala. (photo courtesy of Miracle League) PCEP baseball players can swing for the fences - and a good cause


BY ED WRIGHT July 12, 2010, 9:30 p.m.

Strong, healthy and skilled, Chris Kordick recently capped an impressive high school baseball career at Salem. All the home runs and mound victories the college-bound ex-Rock racked up, however, pale in comparison to the post-high school project Kordick is helping organize: the inaugural PCEP Home Run Derby, proceeds from which will be donated to help build a Plymouth baseball field that will be specially constructed to accommodate youngsters and adults with special needs.

On July 24 on Salem's baseball field, current and former PCEP high school baseball players who are 23 years old or younger will have the opportunity to compete in a home run-hitting contest similar to the one staged by Major League Baseball each year during the All-Star Game festivities. Proceeds from the event - there is a $25 entry fee - will be donated to the Miracle League of Plymouth, a non-profit organization that is planning the development of a $1.1 million complex on the old baseball field behind Central Middle School.

"Earlier this year I was on Facebook like every other high school kid," Kordick said, smiling, when asked how the home run derby idea was born. "I saw a little ad on the side of a page that said 'Miracle League of Plymouth'. It sounded interesting, so I clicked on it. I read the whole front page that told about what the Miracle League was and I e-mailed Ms. (Deb) Madonna (the co-chairperson of the project along with Robert Bilkie) and asked how I could help. "The idea of holding a home run derby at the Park was something I had contemplated for a while along with some friends of mine who played for Canton and Plymouth. We thought it would be cool to see who is the best hitter at the Park. I approached Ms. Madonna about holding a a home run derby to help raise money for the Miracle League, and she welcomed the idea." As did Ted Barker, who is overseeing the construction end of the project.

"When Chris and I met for the first time at a coffee shop in downtown Plymouth, I asked him to put together a business plan for the home run derby and we'd see if we could put something together," said Barker, president of Shaw Construction and Management Co. and, like Madonna and Bilkie, a Plymouth Rotarian. "He put together a great plan and we've been working on it ever since. "Chris was in his senior year of high school - normally a selfish time in a person's life and the best time in a person's life - so to put all this work in and do something as unselfish as this is pretty impressive." Once completed, the Miracle League of Plymouth field will feature a completely rubberized playing surface (to accommodate kids in wheelchairs) flanked by dugouts and an outfield fence, which will be 125 feet from home plate in straight-away center field.

"Every kid deserves an opportunity to play baseball, whether he or she has special needs or not," said Barker. "My best friend's son was born with Down syndrome. During one of the conversations we had, he said, 'I just want my son to be able to play baseball someday.' Now, thanks to the Miracle League, I know for a fact he'll be able to." Ground-breaking for the new facility is set for April 29, 2011, Barker said. "The surface of the field is designed so that all kids can play, regardless of their disability," said Barker. "The surface of the entire field will be rubberized as will the dugouts. "The only existing Miracle League field in the Detroit area right now is in Southfield and there are not enough hours in the day to handle the demand for that field. There is another field being built in Bridgeport and there's talk about one in Ypsilanti. There are 220 fields in the United States. If we could have four in the Detroit area, that would be pretty special."

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 24th. The registration deadline is Friday, July 16. To register or to learn more about the home run derby and the Miracle League of Plymouth, visit www.miracleleagueplymouth.org. "We'll have T-shirts for the competitors and nice trophies for the winners, but the main reason for the event is to benefit the Miracle League of Plymouth, so we're asking people to come out and do this to help better our community," said Kordick. "The rules are basically just like the pro home run derby - each hitter will get eight to 10 outs, depending on the number of players. You bring your own batting practice pitcher and equipment." Kordick said he hopes the derby is the first of many. "Our ultimate goal is to make it an annual event," he said. "In the future, maybe we'll open it up to Northville, Novi and players from other surrounding communities to cover the entire area."

Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or info@plymouthcantonsports.com.