PHOENIX — Taylor Duncan, from a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, grew up loving the game of baseball in large part because of Randy Johnson.
“When he threw that perfect game in ‘04 here in Atlanta, he made a good impact for sure,” said Duncan who wore Johnson’s number 51 when he played the game growing up.
“Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, that was one of the best duos in all of baseball at that time. That was really what got me into the game."
Thank goodness the 24-year-old did. You see, Taylor has autism and because of his love for the game and the desire to help others, he created a baseball league for teens and adults with disabilities.
“With the positive experiences that I’ve actually gotten through the game myself that have helped me become a much more confident person in my day to day life, it was time for me to provide this opportunity to others just like myself.
Taylor created the Alternative Baseball Organization back in 2016, and it’s since changed the lives of people all across the country.
"In a lot of these places, they don’t have any services that are age appropriate catered to their needs up in their areas," Duncan said.
"It’s just been fantastic to see the smiles on all their faces and to watch them grow. We’ve had some go from our program to trying to hold down employment, some wanting to get behind the wheel of a vehicle."
Alternative Baseball is now in about a dozen states, and while the league had to cancel its seasons due to COVID-19, Taylor has used it as an opportunity expand even more.
“We’ve actually signed to start five new programs so far. Regardless of what background they come from, you’re going to get the same high-quality experience in Alternative Baseball regardless of who you are. I mean, this is a rough world we’re living in right now. We need unity.”
Taylor launched a program in Scottsdale in 2019 and is looking to launch others in the Goodyear/Avondale area as well as in Flagstaff. He says he needs coaches, players and volunteers to make it all happen.