This Saturday morning, May 12, a Little League team from Ridgefield will be playing on their home field–in Wilton, at the Wilton Little League’s fields at the YMCA. While it may be unusual for a Ridgefield team to call a Wilton field ‘home,’ that’s just what the Wilton Y field is for the Ridgefield Challenger team, one of six local teams in the Fairfield County Little League Challenger program.

The Challenger Program is an adaptive program, designed for players with physical and intellectual challenges to enable them to be part of a team and play the game of baseball, just as millions of other children do. According to the Ridgefield Little League website, Challenger athletes “…wear the same uniforms, shoulder patches and safety equipment as other Little League players…and each player gets a chance at bat.”

Game play is structured a little differently. “The side is retired when the offense has batted through the roster, or when a pre-determined number of runs have been scored, or when three outs are recorded.”

Challenger players are sometimes joined on the field by “buddies” who assist the players on the field but whenever possible.”[They] encourage the players to bat and make plays themselves, however, the buddy is always nearby to help when needed.” Buddies are often family members, typical peers, high school baseball players or coaches.

Ridgefield’s team was founded 14 years ago by Garry Berger, who still manages the team. Players range in age from 4-19, and the Ridgefield teams also has players from Redding and Danbury. The Challenger teams typically play seven or eight games a season, with Ridgefield playing at home in Wilton three or four games each spring.

In addition to Fairfield and Ridgefield, four other towns field Challenger teams–Stamford, Darien, Norwalk and Westport. While Wilton Little League doesn’t have a Challenger team, Berger said he believed Wilton families whose children do play in the league do so either in Norwalk or Westport, and he’d love to recruit more Wilton athletes to play for their usual rivals to the north.

“I’d love to have Wilton families come to Ridgefield if they like–in fact, given that we play our home games at the Wilton Y that makes the most sense,” he said.

Any Wilton families who would like to learn more about being part of the Challenger team can contact Berger through the Ridgefield Little League website.

For this Saturday’s game, Ridgefield will take on a Challenger team from Fairfield at 10 a.m., and Congressman Jim Himes will be on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Wilton Little League is inviting Wilton fans to attend the game on Saturday to cheer on the teams and raise awareness about players of all abilities and their love of playing baseball.

For any local residents interested in talking to Rep. Himes, he’ll be hosting a “Coffee with a Congressman” inside the Y starting at 10:15 a.m., for any constituents interested in meeting with him.