DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Three little league teams whose seasons came to a halt when bullets flew by their ballpark took the field again in a special way Tuesday night.
The seven and eight-year-old all-star teams from Bull City, South Durham and East Chatham Little Leagues spent the evening doing activities on the field at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with the Durham Bulls, as well as Duke University’s baseball teams.
South Durham Little League President Philip Holmes said the organization worked with the Bulls to give players a new ending to this season after there was gunfire outside their little league game in Wilson on Sunday. Wilson Police said it was not an active shooter late Tuesday.
“These kids all had to find safety and then they came home and their tournament season was ended rather abruptly, and we just thought we needed to do something to give them a positive experience,” Holmes said.
Lindsey Stephenson’s son is a catcher for Bull City. She said Tuesday night was a welcomed distraction from a tough few days.
“He said he doesn’t want to play anywhere that’s not a stadium like this where he’s enclosed and he can feel safe, but he will take the dirt again, he’s on a travel team this summer,” Stephenson said.
It was a season finale filled with batting practice at home plate, wiffle ball and kickball in the outfield and a picnic dinner.
“It’s definitely much needed for these boys, and the parents,” Stephenson said. “We needed this time as a team to get together, hash things (out), watch our kids smile and have fun and not be afraid of anything,” Stephenson said.
Duke also helped with activities.
Holmes reflected on watching his players on the Durham Bulls field.
“It’s fantastic that they get the opportunity to do this, and it really speaks to the strength of our community,” Holmes said. “You know when you’re struggling, when you’re going through something hard, your real friends step up.”
Stephenson said they were able to end the season with new memories and a new family.
“We now have something that connects us that you would hope you never have to have a connection over, but baseball is family, and we will all leave here tonight with an extended baseball family,” Stephenson said.
Holmes said there were also mental health resources at the ballpark for players. He said later this week there will be a webinar with mental health professionals so parents can help their kids process what happened.