August 05, 2005.
The ball beeps, the bases buzz, and most of the players wear blindfolds. A beep baseball game is under way, and blind and visually impaired people are having great fun participating in their own version of America's favorite pastime.
Beep baseball began in 1964 when Charley Fairbanks, a Mountain Bell telephone company employee, installed a transmitter in a softball. Kids at schools for the blind enjoyed the beeping ball, but it wasn't durable enough to be hit with a bat.
In 1975, a new, larger, more durable beep baseball was invented. Two teams in Minneapolis-St. Paul played the sport's first official game. The National Beep Baseball Association held the first Beep Baseball World Series a year later, and more than 1500 spectators cheered as the St. Paul Gorillas won 36 to 27 over the Phoenix Thunderbirds.
The field is a little different in Beep Baseball. There are only two bases - one 100 feet up the left foul line from home plate, the other the same distance up the right foul line. A foam-covered four-foot audible unit is located at each base. A Beep Baseball game lasts six innings (extra if there's a tie). Each team receives three outs per inning, and each batter is allowed four strikes.
When a batter gets a hit, one or the other audio unit is activated by the catcher and the batter runs toward that base. If the runner reaches base before the fielding team retrieves the ball, he or she is safe and scores a run.
Pitchers and catchers are sighted members of the batter's team. The pitcher announces when he throws, and the batter listens to the audible ball so he knows when to swing. If he hits the ball, it must travel more than 40 feet to be fair; if it travels more than 180 feet in the air, it's a home run!
Six players take the field for defense. Two sighted spotters tell the defenders which section of the field the ball is in, or where it is headed.
To play beep baseball, some special equipment is needed. The 16-inch beeping softball costs around $25, and the buzzing bases run about $175 per set. Sighted batters and fielders must wear blindfolds.
For more information about Beep Baseball, contact the National Beep Baseball Association at:
,you can email the NBBA at:
Source URL: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art34207.asp.
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