In the heart of a Tinley Park neighborhood stands a new baseball field in which there is a game or two going on just about every day involving special needs kids and adults.
And it warms the hearts of hundreds of volunteers who made it happen including Denis and Lois Murphy.
This couple is receiving a lot of credit from TP officials for the opening of Challengers Field, a $300,000 facility with artificial turf that has provided many hits, runs and smiles.
The Murphys lived in Evergreen Park 28 years ago. Denis went to St. Bernedette and Evergreen Park High School. Lois attended Northwest Elementary School and Evergreen Park High School. Her maiden name is also Murphy and they still have friends and family in the Evergreen Park community.
But they have really made a big mark in Tinley Park.
One of their four sons, Kyle, is a special needs athlete who has neurofibromatosis, which is a seven-syllable word meaning the growth of tumors anywhere from the spinal cord to the brain.
Kyle is 24, and his parents have been a part of the Challengers League since 1994.
The vision for the new field came about two years ago, Denis said.
“We played on a dirt field and we were kind of handicapped because we only had the field for one night and we split it with three teams,” he said. “We wanted to expand and make it a safe surface. That’s how we started this project.
“We can play seven days a week if we want.’’
The Challengers have 64 athletes in the organization and hope to expand it to more than 120 in the coming years. Athletes from Evergreen Park, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Frankfort, Mokena, Oak Forest and Steger play ball there.
The senior member of all the players is Orland Park’s Brian “Killer” Korwin, who has been with organization since it started 20 years ago. Korwin made a speech via his computer during the grand opening of the field on May 18 and said the major league scouts would flock to the field to scout future phenoms.
“Good luck and just try to keep track of all of this talent,” Korwin said. “These players can help you win a World Series. That is a Killer Korwin guarantee.’’
Another guarantee is that Challengers Field will make a lot of players, parents and friends happy for a long time.
Lois was amazed at the outpouring of love from the hundreds who showed up for the opening ceremonies, which included a parade, the Andrew High School band, White Sox mascot Southpaw, speeches and other activities.
“It’s beyond words – it’s awesome,” she said. “We were waiting for this day to come and it’s everything and more than we expected.’’
A new celebration
We’re going to change a little something that has made me scratch my head for a while.
When Regional Publishing puts out a special section on a given community, it has gone out of its way to make the cover of the section focus on a big event coming to town, such as we did for the Hickory Hills’ Street Fair in last week’s paper.
The trouble is, a vast majority of the section is about the town itself and the businesses that are in it and not the event. People who just look at the cover of these sections might think it is just about the event itself and may not even want to crack it open if they are not interested in it or can’t attend it.
In changing up the ‘we’ve-always-done-it-like-that’ mentality, the Reporter is tossing a curveball.
This week, the special section for Evergreen Park will be called “A Celebration of Evergreen Park and Day in the Park.” Evergreen Park gets the top billing and rightfully so, because this section will be full of great stories and photos that our people have put together over recent months along with some businesses bragging about what they bring to town.
Sure, there will be valuable information about the Day in the Park and six photos on the cover are from last year’s event.
But the true stars of the section are the peeps and businesses in your community, and we are going to try to reflect that from now on.