Union Hill Bulldogs host Autism Awareness game

Katie Dietz, left, Max Young, son of Dick and Mary Young of Chaska, join Union Hill’s Conrad Masberg to throw out the first pitch on Sunday, July 16. The Union Hill Bulldogs held an Autism Awareness program during its July 16 game. Dietz organized the event and Young, who has autism, got to throw out the first pitch. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

The Union Hill Bulldogs held an Autism Awareness day on Sunday, July 16, during their home game against the Lonsdale Aces in DRS Baseball. Katie Dietz, with help from the Bulldogs’ third baseman Adam Gill, organized the event that was to raise awareness of the condition and acceptance of those who have it.

Autism has been defined as a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. The July 16 game had families participate by standing with the Bulldogs during the National Anthem. Among those participating were Christine Hallet of New Prague and her 3 and-a-half year old twins Julian and Dashiell, who have autism. “They’ve never been to a baseball game before and I thought this would be a good one,” said Hallet.

Given the honor to throw out the first pitch was Max Young, son of Dick and Mary Young of Chaska. With him were Dietz and Conrad Masberg of the Bulldogs who is a special education teacher at Kenyon. “It’s great to see the teams support autism. It’s nice of them to bring awareness to it,” said Dick Young.

Dietz, whose brother Jeff Dietz plays for Union Hill, said it took her a month to organize the event with help from Gill. As part of the game, facts about autism were announced between innings. The Bulldogs also wore blue sleeves that featured the autism symbol. Fellow DRS team, the New Prague Orioles also helped as they donated a Glenn Perkins signed baseball for a drawing at the game. Roughly 120 tickets were sold and about $300 was raised for autism at the game.