Miracle League Opening Day

FMU softball player Danny Karacson helps buddy Jaylynn Ingram at the plate Saturday morning during play on the opening day of the Miracle League of Florence County at Greenwood Athletic Park in Florence.

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Miracle League of Florence County opened its fall season Saturday morning with a series of exhibition one-inning games and the traditional ceremony.

During the ceremony, the league remembered one of its own, recognized one of its own and thanked a donor.

Also on hand Saturday was a group of players from the Francis Marion University softball team and a few players from West Florence High School's baseball team.

For the second consecutive season, the league has 10 teams and has added a third day of play to the schedule, said Kevin Elliott, league president.

When the league first started, it had 40 players and now boasts 150 players for the spring season and 140 for the fall, Elliott said.

Those players gathered in a semicircle along the infield/outfield line Saturday to accept a $1,000 donation from Tony, Cathy and Tinsley Odom with Pee Dee Auto Sales. The trio also coaches a team in the league.

"These guys have been huge supporters of this league, and we greatly appreciate them," Elliott said.

As he presented the check, Tony Odum said, "We appreciate everything you do with Miracle League. You give a lot of people opportunities."

A s he called Angela Murph and family to the pitcher's mound, Elliott said, "These are the tough ones."

"With a heavy heart, we'd like to share that another one of our amazing athletes gained their angel wings. Garrison Murph was only 11 years old and had just played his first season with Miracle League this past spring."

The league presented the family a framed jersey and placed a commemorative brick in Garrison Murph's memory.

The league also recognized Frank Eason, a player and former greeter at the Florence Sam's club.

"Many of you in the Florence community know a young man with autism who has been a fixture at Sam’s Club for over 20 years. Frank Eason, who warmly greeted you as you entered the store, was put on leave without pay by Sam’s Club on July 17, 2019," Myra Horton wrote on a Go Fund Me campaign for Eason.

Eason thanked everybody for the support he's received over the past 8½ weeks and thanked supporters for the money they've donated through the fundraising campaign.

Eason said that because of social media and the fundraising campaign, he had a "chunk of cash," a Chick-fil-A $25 gift card and a job offer.

Eason, who hit a home run in his at-bat Saturday morning, also spoke out about the league.

"I love Miracle League baseball," Eason said.

Danny Karacson, a sophomore outfielder for the team, said the team enjoys working with the players on the field.

"We used to do this last year and we've done it previous years and we just love coming out here and playing our game with other people and incorporating ourselves in the community," Karacson said. "We get to know a lot of people playing ball here and it's a lot of fun."

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Digital Editor Matt Robertson is a veteran journalist who has fulfilled just about every role that a newspaper has and now serves as a key member of the Morning News' newsroom by maintaining SCNow.com and covering the occasional story and photo assignment.

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