My Experience With Beep Baseball

Drawing of a wooden baseball bat

by John Miller, A Volunteer with We Connect Now

Standing at the plate, I bounce the bat lightly on my right shoulder as I anticipate the coming action. The pitcher asks me to take a couple of practice swings, so that he can get a feel of where in the zone he should try and place the ball. “You’re gripping it too hard!” he says as I squeeze the bat as though the next swing might well send it flying. “Loosen up, or I might accidentally break your fingers”.

In this modified version of baseball, called beep baseball, both the pitcher and catcher are on the same team as the hitter. Their object is to get me to actually make contact with the ball on one of approximately five throws.

Finally, I settle in and prepare for the real thing. The pitcher says “ready?” and I pull the bat back and assume my stance. Then he says “ball!” and releases the fairly large, beeping orb so that it covers the few feet between him and the plate. The aluminum makes contact, sending the ball almost immediately to the ground where it rolls away into the grass.

As I hurtle toward whichever of the two bases has been activated, (I have to listen for a low buzzing sound,) I hear someone in the field shout a number. These numbers range from 1-7, and they represent zones in which defenders for the other team are placed. Callers, as those in the field who give the numbers are known, have several tactics for informing the fielders of what may happen with any given hit. If the ball is in the middle of a zone and rolling on the ground, that zone’s number is simply stated. If it is hit short, the zone number is called twice in rapid succession: “five! Five!” If the ball is rolling along the line between two zones, both numbers are stated quickly: “six! Seven!” Finally, if, and this is incredibly rare given the size of most standard beep balls, the pitch has been launched into the air, the caller extends the length of the number as it is stated: “seevveenn!”

Basically, I am aiming to reach the base before someone in that field manages to grab the ball and display it to the umpire. If I get to the base, it’s a run. If they get the ball first, it’s an out. The real fun usually happens in the field, where arms are likely to get stepped on, heads can make contact with turf, and one must often sacrifice his or her body in order to stop that ball in time. It’s almost a combination of baseball and football, because of the high amount of contact that is involved. And, as in any other sport, persons playing beep ball have experienced their fair share of injuries.

My explanation of how the game works was accurate in the league in which I played, covering an area in North and South Carolina. I was on a team called the Charlotte Hornets, the original Charlotte Hornets as they so often point out. I played until my level of hearing reached a point that doing so was no longer feasible. I think that other beep baseball leagues have their players run to and deactivate cones, but I’m not really sure how this works as I never played in such a league. Also, if any individual has usable vision, then he or she will be made to wear a blindfold in order to play.

The social aspect of it, the bonding that occurred after an unlikely win, the disappointment I experienced following a bungled play, all those elements made the entire experience worth it. It’s one of the best ways I know of for blind and visually impaired persons to truly experience the dynamics of playing a team sport, and I highly recommend that especially younger individuals try it out.

For a more in-depth discussion of beep baseball, listen to Serotalk’s Tech Chat 96 which was dedicated to the subject at this link:


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