It’s not quite like real baseball, but it’s close enough for 16 teams playing in the World Series of Beep Baseball in Spring this week. A big yellow beeping ball and twelve vision-impaired players make this one of the most interesting games you’ll ever hear.
If you weren’t paying attention to what was going on at Meyer Park, you’d think a bunch of guys were enjoying an afternoon game of softball, complete with uniforms, an umpire and bases. But after a closer look, and listen, you’d notice the blindfolds, only two bases and the beeping ball.
Darrell Minor is a power-hitting outfielder for Houston’s entry in the Beep Baseball World Series, the Bayou City Heat. He says his ears are his biggest weapons in beep ball as he listens for the crack of the bat and the beeping ball as it heads toward the outfield.
In beep baseball, the rules are simple: 6 players on each side, 4 strikes and 1 ball per batter and two bases, first and third, 100 feet from home plate, each one equipped with a beeper so batters know where to run. Once a batter hits the ball, the fielder tries to gain control of it before the batter reaches base. If he’s successful, the batter is out. If not, the batter’s team scores a “run.”
Dr. Ed Bradley is the President of the National Beep Baseball Association and has been around the game almost since its inception in 1975. He says many of the players are good athletes who use beep baseball as an outlet. He says they’re able to still be involved in sports, despite being visually-impaired.
Don Robinson is fiery, the coach of the three time National Beep Ball Champions, the West Coast Dawgs. He says this series is the highlight of the year for his team, the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication to get to this point.
Dawgs rightfielder Elexis Gillette is 20-years-old and completely blind because of glaucoma. He’s also one of the best players on the field, an athlete who ran track in last year’s Paralympics. He says beep baseball has allowed him to stay involved when traditional sports like basketball and football weren’t options.
The National Beep Ball World Series runs through Saturday at Meyer Park in Spring.