TYLER, Texas (KETK) — A baseball team in Tyler has been defying the odds for almost 30 years, and that’s because most of the members are visually impaired. It’s called ‘beep ball’, and it is an organization that turned America’s favorite pastime into an all-inclusive sport.
The coach, Larry Reed, who is visually impaired himself, is wanting to show the community that their disabilities are not limits.
“It’s a great sport for the blind, but also to show the sighted that we are out here competing and doing things that we never had the opportunity to do,” says Coach Reed.
Here’s how it works:
The bases and the ball beeps, that helps the visually impaired navigate the field. They only have a first and third base, because second base interferes with the defensive players, but the main thing is communication. There are at least two sighted people on the field, it is their responsibility to call the direction of a ball headed to the outfield.
The purpose of these calls is to prevent the players from colliding into one another. Because of their placement on the field, they only react when their number is called.
The sport is not just for the visually impaired, you can play the game too. All you have to do is put on a blindfold, step up to the plate, and listen for your pitch. You know when to hit, when the pitcher says “ball.”
“The ball beeps, and if we are on defense you know we will have our ‘mindfolds’ on. And we’ll have to try and feel the ball, whoever our opponent is, whenever they hit it and vice versa when we’re on offense,” said Ronald Jordan, a player on the team.
Ronald grew up always wanting a place on the football field, but when he heard about the Tyler Tigers playing, he knew this was the place for him.
“I never really thought about playing baseball, I just wanted to play football. But I saw him tackle the base like it was a football player. So I thought, like wow this is baseball and softball, it’s mixed in one so I thought that was pretty interesting,” Jordan added.
The team has even caught the eye of small business owner, Dean Stewart. Through his own curiosity, he learned the name of the game and built some special relationships along the way.
“I’ve never seen it, much less being around it for 28 years, I was shocked that I haven’t ever seen this before… I just wanted them to feel the support of the community. And anything I could do to help, make them feel like they belonged, and that they deserve to be here just like everyone else, ” Stewart said.
The Tyler Tigers practice every Saturday at the Moore Middle School football field, if you would like to watch them play or try it for yourself. They are training for the World Series that is later in July, and can always use your support to help get them there.
You can donate through PayPal to the team’s vice president: Rosie Reed @RosieREED667