Athletes with visual impairments now have a choice at beepball, an adapted baseball game. This season two beepball teams, recreational and competitive, are offered as part of the Minnesota Fighting Lions Association. The recreational team, the St. Paul Lions, offers a more relaxed game, while the competitive team, the Minnesota Millers, is for those who have a need for more competition.
Minnesota beepball teams played in the Beepball World Series in Ames, IA, July 22-26. The Millers had a rough time of it July 24 as they lost to Austin, 12-6 and Chicago, 12-4, on July 24, and 21-1 to Colorado on July 25. The team bounced back that same day to beat Wichita, 11-6.
Beepball or beep baseball is a great sport adaptation for anyone who is blind or visually impaired. People with sight can play beepball but they must don sleep shades that blocks their vision.
Beepball is similar to baseball or softball but players rely on their hearing. The game involves a ball that beeps, so players can hear it, hit it or catch it. The bases also beep, letting players know where to swing and where to run. The bases are made of soft foam and stand about four feet high. Ball players need to touch all the bases to make a run. The field has first, third and home bases, but no second base. Beepball players get four strikes instead of three. The catcher and pitcher are sighted. The pitcher and the batter are on the same team. The pitcher throws the ball underhanded.
Like baseball, the objective is to score a runs by making a connection between bat and ball. If a batter can hit the ball hard enough for the ball to go over one hundred feet, he has a better chance of scoring.
A defensive team is made of six players. They don’t wear traditional baseball gloves and instead stop the balls with their bare hands or their bodies. When the ball is within reach, the defensive player grabs the ball and raises it high over his or her head. That action indicates a successful defensive play to prevent the team up to bat from scoring a run. With the ball raised overhead, the batter is called out if the batter doesn’t make the 100-foot base run prior to the catch of the ball.
Fun and exercise are the driving forces behind the two teams, and both invite anyone interested to try out and check out the fun. Both practice weekly at the Cretin-Derham Hall High School fields in St. Paul, at Randolph and Hamline avenues. The Millers practice 10 a.m.-noon; the Lions take the field 1-3 p.m. Lions’ practices will switch to mornings this summer. Some players from each team participate in both practices. Players range in age from 12 to 70s. Young and old alike put their hearts into the game and all who participate have a lot of fun.
To learn more about the Lions recreational team, contact Coach Dennis Stern, 651-452-5324 or email [email protected]. To learn more about the Millers competitive team, contact Coach Doug VanDyne at 651-788-6652 or email [email protected]