View Mobile Site

Blind stay active with beep baseball

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED August 3, 2009 12:29 a.m.

During his younger years, Eric Scholz had limited vision.


He lost his sight as a first-grade student growing up in nearby Escalon.


“I sort of remember watching a guy kick a ball – maybe a soccer ball?” said Scholz at last week’s National Beep Baseball Association World Series.
Yet he wanted to stay active.


“I love running. I wanted to play a sport,” Scholz added.


He’s thankful for his friend, David Vigil, who is also blind, for introducing him to beep baseball. They’re among the original eight members of the Stockton Stingrays involved in this year’s World Series.


The championship game was played n the new Stockton Soccer Complex, with the winners of the games involving Kansas All-Stars /Bayou City Heat and Chicago Comets /Austin Blackhawks squaring off.


The Stingrays once again earned high marks for sportsmanship in the 14-team field that also featured the Colorado Storm, Indy Thunder, Southwest Slammers, Taiwan Home Run, Tyler Tigers, West Coast Dawgs, Wichita Sonics, Carolina Pride, and Boston Renegades.


 Cindy Lee, spokesperson for the California Golden Bear Chapter of the AT&T Pioneers, was thrilled just to be hosting these games in her own backyard.


She handled the volunteer arm of the games, with her area covering California as far north as the Oregon border and down to Kern County.
“Beep baseball was invented by the Pioneers,” said Lee, who has been involved with this endeavor for the past 30 years.


Charley Fairbanks, who was an engineer with Mountain Bell Telephone, came up with an apparent solution for the blind to play baseball in 1964. He implanted a small beeping device in a regulation sized baseball.


From there, some basic rules were devised by a group of service-oriented telephone company employees known back then as the Telephone Pioneers of America. Included was a pair of knee-high, cone shaped, rubber bases containing electrically powered sounding units emitting a high-pitched whistle.


The game really didn’t really take off until 1975. John Ross, director of the Braille Sports Foundation, received a newly designed beep ball from the Minnesota Telephone Pioneers.


The new 16-inch beep ball with the improved sound module had been designed to withstand the impact from a baseball bat. Several changes to the rules shaped the game what it is today.


“Our game is a lot like baseball but only with first and third base,” Scholz said.


There are no set fielding positions. But the member of the Stingrays described his defensive spot as “shallow on the third base side.”


 Sholtz, sporting batting gloves rather than a baseball mitt, will do whatever it takes to stop the ball in play for a registered out.


“Since I love running, I’ll do a body block (on the ball),” he said.


For his efforts, Sholtz has suffered a sprained wrist, endured minor knee scrapes, and even lost a nail.


But for now he wouldn’t trade beep baseball for anything in the world.


More information on the game can be found online at www.valleysportsnetwork.com.









 

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...