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Friday, August 27, 2010
The 35th World Series of Beep
Baseball for the visually impaired was held in
The Beep Baseball world was saddened to learn that Alfredo
Meli, President and founder of baseball for the blind in
Under American rules for beep baseball each team has six sight-impaired fielders who play defense, wear masks and who are eligible to bat. More players can substitute as strategy dictates. A team can have a designated hitter and fielder in the starting lineup. Each team also has up to two sighted spotters who help position the defense and a sighted pitcher and catcher.
There is a Head Umpire behind the plate and usually at
least one field umpire to rule on defensive actions
and an umpire on each base. To start play the Head Umpire
asks, "Ready spotters?" and the pitcher "Ready?" Then he
signals the controller "Bases?", and the controller
tests each base to verify they are functioning correctly. He then
tells the spectators "Quiet Please" so that the players can hear the
action; he announces the number of outs and "Play Ball."
The pitcher then has 30 seconds to throw the first pitch.
On some teams, the catcher positions his glove
to mark the batter's spot for the pitcher. When the pitcher begins his
motion he announces to the batter "Ready" and then "Pitch"
as he releases the ball. There are many styles, strategies and speeds of
pitching the ball to the plate
The Head Umpire announces "Strike" if the batter misses the ball, or "Foul Ball" if the ball goes out of
bounds or does not reach fair territory. A ball must travel at least
Here is a
strong fly ball hit down the third baseline. The base
operator turns on one of the bases immediately upon contact. The runner
charges aggressively to the base
On a fair ball, one of the spotters announces the number of one of the six defensive field areas. Only one of the two spotters can announce one number one time. Defenders can take position anywhere in fair territory. Defenders can talk to each other to help locate the ball. "Left", Right", "Over" are frequently heard as quick indicators of what the ball has done as it passes a short or intermediate fielder. When a defender has control of the ball and says "Ball" or "Up" the field umpire signals out. The base umpire signals safe when the runner touches the base. The Head Umpire then decides if the point counts or if the runner is out.
Defenders use their full body to first block the
ball, and then to seize the ball and show control to the field
umpire. Pitching and hitting are the result of long
and frequent practices, often using dead balls and not a beeping
one. A smooth and predictable swing with a slight upper
cut to put air on the ball is best in Beep Baseball.
The best "strike zone" is the one that assures the ball hits the bat!
It is almost impossible for a batter to hear the ball coming, so it is a question of desire, repetition and positioning. A line drive that hits the pitcher is considered a "no pitch" or a "dead ball" and is replayed.
After a defensive error you might hear "the
sun got in his eyes" or "he was squinting" from the players or
Defensive strategy requires reflexes, teamwork and communication between the defenders to stop and to locate the ball. A tight-knit defense is a skilled team.
The final of the World Series was an exciting six-inning
cliff hanger. The West Coast Dawgs prevailed over the
Taiwan Homerun in the last inning by one point (12 - 11) to
win this year's Series. Next year's World Series will be in
This game is easy to understand, even if it is more difficult than it looks. There is exciting action and suspense on every play. It requires practice, courage and determination. Even those who don't understand baseball find beep ball captivating and thrilling to watch.
Those who have played beep baseball for many years have noticed the confidence and self-assurance veteran players demonstrate at home, with others and at work. The transformation is profound.