Athens Inclusive Recreation and Sports hosted The Annual Blind Baseball Tournament Saturday. I’m sorry I did not go. It must have been great. Blind people are getting a chance to take a whack at playing the country’s national pastime.
I don’t have the time or the space to describe all I read about Beep Baseball on the internet but the website of The National Beep Baseball Association is http:www.nbba.org/about_game.htm. Check it out. It is really interesting especially for baseball fans.
Naturally Beep Baseball cannot be played like regular baseball. A contest lasts for just six innings. There is no second base. First base and third base are padded cylindrical speakers that are four feet tall. The speakers are 100 feet down the usual first and third base lines and they are set ten feet off the foul line. All players, with the exception of the pitcher and the catcher and the spotters, must wear a blindfold to ensure none of them can actually see the action.
From 20 feet out the pitcher must say “ready” just before he releases the ball and the catcher sets the target where he thinks the hitter normally swings. The pitcher tries to get the ball on the hitter’s bat. When he releases the ball the pitcher must say “pitch” or “ball.”
The batter tries to judge when the ball will reach the distance he needs for a good swing. He hears the pitcher say pitch or ball and he listens for the ball that is emitting a constant beep. He has to allow time for the ball to get to him and he has to judge where the beeping ball is in relation to his bat and if he hits it, it has to travel over 40 feet. Less than 40 feet is a foul. If it goes 180 feet in the air it’s a homer!
Once the batter hits the ball, either the first base or the third base speaker will begin to buzz. Each speaker has its own distinctive buzz so the batter knows which one to run toward. If he gets to his destination before a defensive player traps the beeping ball, he has scored a run. There is no running of the bases and no one is thrown out.
There are only six defensive players in the field with a couple of spotters who shout a number to the players to indicate where the ball is heading. The defensive play usually results in much bodily involvement such as throwing yourself on the beeping ball. If you are good and you manage to body block the ball before the hitter gets to his base, the hitter is out.
I’ve sort of hit the high spots here and there to touch on some of the differences between beep ball and regular baseball but if your interest is piqued please visit the NBBA website so you can get it all straight from the horse’s mouth.
I only regret they did not have beep ball when I was a kid. It would have suited me perfectly. I had a hard time seeing anything but mass objects like autos, elephants, and houses. Where I grew up, we only occasionally saw an elephant. Her name was Laska and she lived at the local zoo.
These beep ball guys can take one look at me today and probably let me play without a blindfold. My glasses are so thick I’ve had plastic surgery three times to move my nose off my lips and back up between my eyes.
Today I would make a great defensive player if all you have to do is fling yourself down on a beeping ball. I’ve got the mass. I’ve got the height. I’ve got the width. I’ve got the weight. What I do not have is the ability to get back up off the ground once I have made that initial fling.