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Sight to See: Blind Baseball Keeps Visually Impaired Athletes in the Game

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
Texas is home to two of the best baseball teams in the world. But for most of the players, it's been years since they've actually seen the ball hit the bat.

However thanks to a one-pound ball filled with old telephone parts, even the visually impaired can answer the call to take part in America's pastime.

"It's awesome," said Brandon Chesser, a member of the Austin Blackhawks. "It's the greatest sport out there."

"You have to do things a little bit different," said Tanner Gers, who plays for the Bayou City Heat in Houston. "But just because we are doing it different, does not mean it can't be done."

The game is called beep baseball. All players (with the exception of the pitcher who is not visually impaired) wear blindfolds, so those with partial vision don't have an advantage. There are six defenders and only two bases. If the batter gets to the base, a padded cylinder that buzzes, before the ball is fielded - that's a run. And unlike conventional baseball, batters try to hit pop ups.

"You don't want to do any ground balls," said Austin Blackhawks head coach Jonathan Fleming. "Those will get scooped up pretty quick."

Sure, the game is a bit different - but if you ask the players, they are not.

"I've never let my vision limit me," said Blake Boudreaux, a member of the Heat. "I've always done what I wanted to do. I control the disability, I don't let it control me."

"I realized I had the opportunity to keep athletics and sports in my life, so it was amazing," said Gers, who went blind after a traffic accident at the age of 21.

These two teams, the Austin Blackhawks and Bayou City Heat, have finished finished in the top 8 of the Beep Baseball World Series each of the past four years. Call them a dynasty, just don't call them handicapped.

"We do anything and everything anybody else can do, just with a little modification," said Blackhawks player Danny Foppiano.

"They hear blind baseball and they think everybody gets a trophy and circles around," said Boudreaux, who started playing beep ball at the age of 11. "I played class 5A [high school] football here in the state of Texas and this game is a lot more competitive than that."

These players may have lost their sight, but not their desire to compete. Just the sound of a beep speaks volumes for these athletes' love of the game. Sight to See: Blind Baseball Keeps Visually Impaired Athletes in the Game


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March 27, 2015 07:06 GMT

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NCAA TOURNAMENT

Thursday's Scores

Midwest Regional Semifinals

Notre Dame 81, Wichita State 70

Kentucky 78, West Virginia 39

West Regional Semifinals

Wisconsin 79, North Carolina 72

Arizona 68, Xavier 60

Friday's Games

East Regional Semifinals

N.C. State (22-13) vs. Louisville (26-8), 7:37 p.m.

Michigan State (25-11) vs. Oklahoma (24-10), 10:07 p.m.

South Regional Semifinals

UCLA (22-13) vs. Gonzaga (34-2), 7:15 p.m.

Duke (31-4) vs. Utah (26-8), 9:45 p.m.

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Thursday's Game

Milwaukee 111, Indiana 107

Friday's Games

L.A. Clippers at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Charlotte at Washington, 7 p.m.

Detroit at Orlando, 7 p.m.

Miami at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.

L.A. Lakers at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

Cleveland at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.

Boston at New York, 7:30 p.m.

Sacramento at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

Minnesota at Houston, 8 p.m.

Golden State at Memphis, 8 p.m.

Dallas at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m.

Utah at Denver, 9 p.m.

Portland at Phoenix, 10 p.m.

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Thursday's Games

Anaheim 3, Boston 2, OT

Arizona 4, Buffalo 3, OT

Los Angeles 3, N.Y. Islanders 2

Washington 3, New Jersey 2, OT

Carolina 5, Pittsburgh 2

Florida 4, Toronto 1

N.Y. Rangers 5, Ottawa 1

San Jose 6, Detroit 4

Nashville 3, Tampa Bay 2

Winnipeg 5, Montreal 2

Colorado 4, Vancouver 1

Friday's Games

Calgary at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Columbus at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

Dallas at Edmonton, 9:30 p.m.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL - SPRING TRAINING

Thursday's Scores

Miami 5, St. Louis 3

Detroit 6, Baltimore 4

Tampa Bay 6, N.Y. Yankees 5

Atlanta 7, Pittsburgh 5

Boston 5, Minnesota 4, 10 innings

Toronto 4, Philadelphia 1

Kansas City 3, Seattle (ss) 0

Cincinnati 13, Cleveland 2

Milwaukee 15, Seattle (ss) 1

L.A. Dodgers 9, Chicago White Sox 6

Arizona 3, San Diego 3, tie, 10 innings

N.Y. Mets 8, Washington 3

L.A. Angels 8, Chicago Cubs 4

Texas 6, Colorado 3

Friday's Games

N.Y. Yankees vs. Philadelphia at Clearwater, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Tampa Bay vs. Baltimore at Sarasota, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Boston vs. Atlanta at Kissimmee, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

N.Y. Mets vs. St. Louis (ss) at Jupiter, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

St. Louis (ss) vs. Washington at Viera, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Detroit vs. Toronto at Dunedin, Fla., 1:07 p.m.

Texas vs. Oakland at Mesa, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs at Mesa, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Cleveland vs. Arizona (ss) at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Arizona (ss) vs. L.A. Angels at Tempe, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Miami vs. Houston at Kissimmee, Fla., 6:05 p.m.

Seattle vs. Kansas City at Surprise, Ariz., 9:05 p.m.

San Francisco vs. L.A. Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz., 10:05 p.m.

Milwaukee vs. Cincinnati at Goodyear, Ariz., 10:05 p.m.

Colorado vs. San Diego at Peoria, Ariz., 10:05 p.m.

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