What is it and How Do You Play?
Summer just isn’t the same without baseball. The crack of the bat, the unique stadiums, the pop of the ball in the mitt—all those sights and sounds are staples of summer throughout the US, especially here in IBVI’s hometown of Milwaukee.
But what would baseball be like if players only had the sounds and none of the sight? In an often-dangerous game of speed and precision, you might wonder how a person who is blind or visually impaired could play baseball. Luckily, there is a popular game in the blind and visually impaired community called Beep Baseball, and it’s a great way for individuals to stay active and join a team activity.
How Do You Play?
If you are sighted and watching from the stands, Beep Baseball at first seems exactly like baseball. There’s a pitcher, a batter, and players in the field. But when the pitcher throws the ball, everything changes.
To let players know where the ball and bases are, the bases emit a long, sustained beeping sound and the ball has the typical “beep beep” alarm clock sound. When it’s thrown, the ball beeps so the batter knows where the ball is and when to swing. When the batter hits the ball, they can run to either the traditional first base or third base. The bases are tall, cushioned cones instead of typical bases so the batter can run and “tackle” the base. . If one of the fielders touches the ball before the batter reaches the base, the batter is out. If the batter reaches base first, a run is scored.
What If One Player Has More Vision Than Another?
People who are blind or visually impaired have varying levels of vision so, to level the playing field, all players wear blindfolds. There are also positions in the game reserved specifically for sighted people. The pitcher is usually sighted so he or she can deliver good pitches to the batter. In fact, unlike baseball, the pitcher and batter in Beep Baseball are on the same team, so they can be on the same page with pitch speed and location.
The “spotter” on defense in the field is also sighted. When a batter hits the ball in play, the spotter’s job is to call out the fielder who is closest to the ball to give them additional assistance. The spotter can only call the fielder’s jersey number—they can’t say how high the ball is or how fast it’s going.
Are There Leagues for Beep Baseball?
It’s nice that there is a version of baseball for those who are blind or visually impaired, but it is truly an organized sport nationwide? You better believe it. The National Beep Baseball Association runs a full professional league with 32 official teams across the country.
There is a NBBA world series each year (this year, it’s in Ames, Iowa from Sunday, July 26 through Sunday, August 2nd) and they even have a league hall of fame.
What are the Benefits of Playing?
Beep Baseball offers blind athletes an opportunity for high-level competition. This is not a “just for fun” kind of league—layers work hard and take pride in their abilities, and they hone their skills to compete at the highest level.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Beep Baseball players experience valuable social connection. They work as a team toward a common goal and make lifelong friendships along the way. While blindness and visual impairment often push people into isolation, activities like Beep Baseball bring them together—and togetherness is something everyone needs.
Those two benefits—high-level skill and deep social connection—resonate deeply with us at IBVI. Our employees make connections with their coworkers as they work side-by-side each day toward the goal of producing quality supplies for our customers. We support them as they “take the field” in their quest for a more fulfilling life. Now, let’s play ball!