It's a sport that requires diligence, grit and a talented ear.
Morning Dose's Maggie Flecknoe steps up to bat blindfolded during an early morning practice with National Beep Baseball Association team the Bayou City Heat. Established in 1976, the association is one of only two professional organizations providing competitive sports opportunities for the legally blind or visually impaired.
If we learned anything during practice; beep baseball is tough. Following rules similar to traditional baseball, the players use a ball somewhat like a softball that emits a loud beeping sound allowing players to hear it as it cuts through the air. Beep ball has attracted talented players from across the world, even as far as Taiwan. The association also has a women's league called Women of Our League.
"When people first hear about blind baseball, a lot of the times it's 'the blind people are going out and playing a nice game of softball, and everyone's cheering and holding hands and kumbaya," NBBA president Blake Boudreaux said. He has been a player and organization member for the past 25 years. "The truth of the matter is beep baseball is one of the most competitive sports out there, and it's one of the most competitive sports I've been involved with."
While competition brings about a feeling of accomplishment, the sport has also united the players and fan base of this adaptive sports community.
"I think it's the comradery; there are only two games of team sports for blind and visually impaired folks to play— and that's beep baseball and goal ball," Bayou City Heat assistant coach, manager and co-founder Michael Garrett said. "You learn to trust each other. You learn to play together as a team. [It's] bringing us together."
Garrett and a group of others established the team in 1976, shortly after the association was founded.
Bayou City Heat player Jacory Wiley shared the meaning behind his beep baseball-related children's book, Vision to Dream.
The Bayou City Heat returns to the NBBA World Series tournament this year. It will be held in Tulsa from July 28 - Aug. 4.
If you're interested in supporting the Bayou City Heat, the team is currently accepting donations for equipment and other team expenses. Contact Michael Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can help.