Beep Baseball: An American Pastime Adapted for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

All beep baseball batters wear blindfolds and swing at the baseball, which makes a noise. Photo by New Bedford Guide.

Seasonally, the Council is publishing a series of articles to help you stay active. This spring, we are featuring beep baseball. Check Council publications for future articles.

Beep baseball started in the 1960’s in Colorado. The National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) was founded in 1976, and set forth the rules used in the sport today.

How is Beep Baseball Played?

Beep baseball players use equipment that provides them with audio cues. The bases are each equipped with a buzzing mechanism. The ball emits a fast, constant beeping sound so players can locate it while batting and retrieving the ball after it has been hit. When the ball is hit, players in the field run toward the beep and scoop up the ball. (A ball has only been caught in midair five times in beep baseball history.) If they get the ball before the batter makes it to a base and tackles it, that batter is out. If they do not, the batter scores a point. The ball stops beeping when it is picked up, and the base stops buzzing when it is tackled.

Rules and Equipment:

Beep baseball bases are tackled during a game to signify that someone is on base. Photo by New Bedford Guide.

  • There are only two bases: first and third. The bases, which emit a buzzing sound, are about four feet tall and are made of foam. Players run toward the buzzing base after the ball is hit.
  • The catcher and pitcher are on the batter’s team; they both have some functional vision.
  • There are six fielders in a team, and all of them are blind or visually impaired.
  • Batters, basemen and outfielders wear sleep shades or blindfolds so as to not give any advantage to players with some remaining vision.
  • The defensive team is allowed two spotters, or sighted volunteers, who call out the zone numbers and assist the team.
  • Each game has six innings and games typically last 90 minutes.

Watch this video of the first game of the 2018 beep baseball World Series, held in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to get an idea of how the sport is played.

Listen to this clip from National Public Radio, which has excellent audio of a game being played.

Hundreds of beep baseball players were in Eau Claire last summer to play in the Beep Baseball World Series. One of those players was Joe Quintanilla, a player on the Boston Renegades team since 2001.

“I love to compete, and that is why I play beep baseball,” says Joe. “You get to move full speed without worrying about what is around you. It offers competition and an opportunity to improve on various skills. You also make great friendships. In its own way, playing makes us ambassadors for the blind community.”

Upcoming Beep Baseball Events:

18th Annual Bolingbrook Beepball Bash

The Bolingbrook Beepball Bash is hosted and sponsored by the Bolingbrook Lions and the community of Bolingbrook Illinois.

Dates: June 7-9, 2019

Games will be on Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, 2019. Find more information at mnmillers.org/.

 

Kids Day Beep Baseball:

Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Location: Casey Lake Park

2039 17th Avenue, E.

North St. Paul, MN 55109

 

At this free event, players of the Minnesota Millers will teach kids 15 and under how to play beep baseball.

Find more information by visiting mnmillers.org/event/kids-day-beep-baseball/ online.

Beep Baseball Teams:

Beep baseball teams compete in various tournaments nationwide which culminate in an annual World Series. There are about 30 teams total; some in the United States and around the world. There is currently no team in Wisconsin. All teams can be contacted through the website of the National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA).

To Learn More:

Visit the NBBA’s website at nbba.org.

The following books can be requested from the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (dpi.wi.gov/talkingbooks):

  • Beep: Inside the Unseen World of Baseball for the Blind DB90850, Wanczyk, David. 2018.
  • Feeling Sports DBC00614, Ross, John. Reading time: 4 hours, 14 minutes.

The Sports, Therapeutic and Adaptive Recreation (STAR) Center in La Crosse will offer beep baseball as an available activity. The group is currently in the fundraising stages for a $20,000,000 facility, which is expected to  open in 2021. Learn more at starcenterlacrosse.org/about/.

Interested in starting a team or playing beep baseball with friends or family? Find information about where to purchase beep baseball equipment at nbba.org/equipment/ and purchase beeping balls, buzzing bases and chargers at nbba.org/buy-beep-baseball-equipment/. Whether you decide to be a player, volunteer or spectator, beep baseball is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone. So get out there and play ball!

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