KISSIMMEE, FLA -- Baseball is simple.
As the late Trey Wilson famously said in Bull Durham, "You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You hit the ball."
There's beauty in the simplicity. Take a game of catch between brothers Nick and Hunter Szczybor.
"It's good to just release some stress," Nick says while tossing back and forth.
The game has strengthened a bond.
“Sometimes it’s harder for us to connect and just coming out and doing this, it helps," Hunter says.
Nick has never had an issue with loving the game. Acceptance by others has been a challenge.
“I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my early 20’s. I was never told I couldn’t play but there were times as I got older when I was playing little league that there were kids on the team who were definitely bullying me.”
Twenty-seven-year-old Nick has Asperger's Syndrome. It's a condition on the autism spectrum.
“Sometimes I felt like the outcast on the team.”
“It was very upsetting," Hunter said. "When I was that young I really didn’t understand why or what it meant, but as I got older growing up with a special needs brother it taught me a lot about who that just want to be treated like everyone else.”
Nick found acceptance and rediscovered love of the game. Founded in Dallas, Georgia in 2016 by Taylor Duncan, the Alternative Baseball Organization (ABO) is a desgined league for teens and adults with autism and other special needs. It has since expanded to more than 80 clubs in 33 states.
ABO expansion has made its way to Florida including a new team in Clermont. That club will be managed by Dennis Szczybor, Nick and Hunter's father.
“The hardest part when you’re on the autism spectrum is that social interaction," Dennis said. "It’s usually awkward, but when you’re with others similar to you it tends to be a lot more comfortable.”
His sons are proof that only good can come from hitting the diamond.
"My time with ABO has been a really positive experience," Nick said. “You’re going to realize how much fun and how much of a blast you’re going to have doing this.”
Alternative Baseball allows Nick to fall in love with the sport again. It also builds a brother's relationship.
“There was a period for a while where we didn’t talk that much and we grew apart a little bit," said Hunter who serves as a volunteer assistant. "This definitely has helped us get closer.
For more information on Alternative Baseball, click here. If you're interested volunteering or joining ABO's Clermont team, contact ClermontABO@gmail.com