The game is in full swing, yet you can hear a pin drop in the stands. No one utters a sound out of fear they’ll distract the players defending their bases because they need to use their hearing to know when the player is running towards them. Once the batter hits a base with their hand, the crowd erupts in applause.
This isn’t your typical baseball game, and these aren’t your average players!
These people are playing beep baseball, a version of baseball that has been modified to enable visually impaired players to participate. The game has been around for decades. In fact, the National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) was organized in the United States back in 1976.
Beep baseball uses sound in place of sight to make the game accessible to the visually impaired. There are only two bases, first and third, and they stand 4 to 5 feet tall. After the batter hits the ball, the bases start to beep so runners can follow the sound to the base.
The catcher and the pitcher are the only sighted players on the team. The six other players are all visually impaired, plus they wear sleep shades or dark glasses to eliminate any advantage for those with some level of vision.
The defensive team uses sighted volunteers, called spotters, who call out the zone numbers. Unlike regular baseball, beep baseball has six innings and four strikes. It’s an innovative approach to America’s pastime that makes it accessible for everyone.
“Usually as a visually-impaired person, you’re sitting on the sidelines and just cheering on, because you don’t have the chance to play basketball, or play football, but now that I’ve found this sport, I’m included,” said Jason Esterhuizen, a player who lost his vision in a car accident 11 years ago.
Jason is a member of the Pasadena Panthers, a beep baseball team in California that made it to the National Beep Baseball World Series in 2022. The team traveled to Beaumont, Texas to participate in the event.
According to the City of Beaumont, Texas, website, the World Series “includes 37 teams throughout the United States, Taiwan, Canada, and the Dominican Republic. The world series is one of the most notable sporting events for the NBBA that gives all teams the opportunity to meet and compete.”
How have we not heard of this amazing adaptation of the traditional American sport until now? Beep baseball is such a simple concept, but it means so much to people who have been excluded from traditional sports for so long!
Share this story to increase awareness of this big step in inclusive sports.
Want more good news?
Sign up for Smile, our free daily good news email with over 600,000 happy and optimistic subscribers!
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.