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Beep Baseball Gives Blind Athletes The Opportunity To Celebrate Their Independence

Jul 02, 2018 06:40PM ● By Bill Gilman
Joe Quintanilla says he and the rest of the Boston Renegades are the same as other ball players.
With just one slight difference.
"I tell people that instead of needing good 'hand-eye' coordination, we need good 'hand-ear' coordination," said Quintanilla.
The Renegades, made up almost entirely of athletes that are completely or legally blind,  are one of the best "Beep Baseball" teams in the country. On Tuesday (July 3), the Renegades will be in Tewksbury to take on Tewksbury Firefighters Local 1647 in a benefit game. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Obden Field on Livingston Street.
The game is sponsored by the Tewksbury Lions Club and admission is free.
While there will be ways for fans to donate to the Renegades, Quintanilla said games like this give the team an opportunity to raise public awareness about blindness and show what blind citizens are capable of.
"It's a chance for us to show what we can do as athletes," he said. "We're intense competitors. We run hard, we're laying out to block the ball and make plays."
The Boston Renegades were founded in 2001 and Quintanilla has is one of the founding members. Over the years, the team has proved its abilities in tournaments around the country, including appearances in the National Beep Baseball Association World Series.
When Quintanilla joined the Renegades, there were just 16 Beep Baseball teams in the country. today there are dozens, as well as teams in foreign countries where baseball is huge, such as the Dominican Republic and Taiwan.
The Boston Renegades recently kicked off their 2018 season by going 4-0 on a road trip to Rochester. While there, they beat teams from Philadelphia, New Jersey and Long Island, as well as the host Rochester Pioneers.
Fans who attend Tuesday's game will learn that Beep Baseball is played in a slightly different way than standard baseball or softball, with different rules designed for sightless players.
A few of the key differences:
  • The team at bat has it's own sighted pitcher (and catcher) throwing to its batters. The pitcher throws from just 20 feet away and calls out a signal as he is getting ready to pitch and as he releases the ball.
  • There are just two bases, placed 100 feet from home plate and 10 feet off the foul lines. The bases are four-foot tall padded cylinders with speakers. When the batter hits the ball, a buzzer on one of the two bases will sound and the batter must identify which one and run to it.
  • In the meantime, there are six fielders behind the pitcher whose job it is to field and control the ball before the runner reaches the base. The ball emits a "beep-beep" sound (hence the name of the sport) which the fielders zero in on, with limited help from two sighted "spotters."
  • If a fielder controls the ball before the runner reaches the base, it's an out. If the runner reaches the base first, it's a run for his (or her) team.
Click here for a better breakdown of the "Beep Baseball" rules.
The game is intense and not for the faint of heart. To stop a batted ball, fielders often dive to the ground, using their body to block the ball before picking it up. And while the bases are padded, runners going full speed will frequently hit the turf.
"There are some injuries, bumps and bruises. I've got a shoulder injury I'm dealing with that I got in a game," said Quintanilla.
The players on the Renegades' roster are originally from different parts of the country and different walks of life. Quintanilla, by day, works as a fundraiser for National Braille Press in Boston.


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