Sports Love Disclaimer
I’m a huge sports fan. I’m the guy who throws big Super Bowl parties, can be found yelling at the TV when the umpire makes a bad call, and watches through his fingers when the station decides to replay an injury over and over again.
But as much as I love the competition and the adrenaline rush of a great play, one of my favorite aspects of all sports is the uplifting stories that can come out of competition. I’m a sucker for every story about an athlete beating the odds and making a miraculous recovery, or a team doing something charitable and giving a fan the time of their life.
As such, the story of the National Beep Baseball Association is like my greatest weakness.
Organizations like the Special Olympics have gone a long way towards disrupting the idea that competition is unique to able-bodied individuals. And the NBBA is joining in that fight.
The NBBA is a baseball league for the blind and visually impaired.
The game is played with the use of specialized equipment. First, there are the blindfolds. Every player is blindfolded because the degrees of their blindness varies. The blindfolds are used to even the playing field.
Then there’s the ball. Bigger and lighter than a standard baseball, the beep baseball emits a steady beeping noise when a pin is pulled. At which point, the pitcher throws the ball towards the batter who listens for the moment when the ball is within range and takes a swing.
One thing that sets Beep Baseball apart from the major leagues is the level of partnership between the pitcher and the batter. Because the pitcher is one of the only sighted individuals on the field (joined by the catcher and a few spotters who work to avoid serious collisions), his main job isn’t actually to get the batter to strike out. He’s actually working in tandem with the batter, within reason, to try and ensure he gets a hit.
Once the hit is scored, the batter runs towards one of two four-feet tall foam-padded bases. The bases also beep but in a different tone than the ball, and they are placed roughly where first and third base are located on a standard baseball diamond.
The outfielders listen for the beeping ball coming towards them. Their job is to collect the ball from where it’s landed or rolled before the batter makes it to his designated base. If they succeed in their tasks, an out is scored, but if the batter makes it to the base first, a run is scored.
Blind Baseball is gaining attention. The 2014 World Series featured teams from Canada and Taiwan in addition to the US. And the end of that series also had items being placed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The more attention paid to the sport, the better. The NBBA gives people who may have lost hope of ever pursuing their dream of playing baseball the opportunity to do just that.
I think it’s kind of neat to see the sport get some recognition at this level and I hope it raises awareness […] It is about showing the ability in a disability. -Rob Weissman, coach of the Association for Blind Citizens Boston Renegades team