AFFTON, Mo. (KMOX) – At the back of the Affton Athletic Fields sits the only baseball diamond with no lights.
The players don’t really need them. They’re blind.
KMOX News traveled to Affton on a recent Tuesday night so you could hear about a unique game from the men and women who play it.
The players of Beepball can’t see the ball, they have to listen for it’s beeps. If the ball is hit in fair play, an umpire presses a switch and one of two bases buzzes. The blindfolded players must then reach the base before an outfielder grabs the beeping ball.
“I love just the ability to play a game that, you know, a lot of blind people don’t get a chance to play,” Bob Jaco, who has been playing for two decades, says. “You have to be able to hear the ball, you have to be able to hear the bases. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”
Those bases are tall, vinyl-covered cylinders that many end up tackling in their zeal to make a run.
“The biggest difference is the pitcher is on your team,” Steve Schnelle explains. “The pitcher is trying to get you to hit that ball because if he wasn’t, blind guys wouldn’t have a chance.”
“They don’t swing to hit the ball,” pitcher Dave Roberts adds. “They swing the same way every time. It’s up to the pitcher to hit their bat.”
If you think standing at home plate listening for a ball is intimidating, think about being an outfielder. Those in the field also wear blindfolds with the exception of two “spotters” who guide the others.
“I usually fade back and gauge the speed and I just kind of dive or I’ll try to create a wall with my body and lay down on the ground and let it hit me,” Schnelle says.
Blind and blindfolded teams will compete in a Beepball tournament this Saturday at GCS Ballfield in Sauget, Illinois. Click here for more information.
“I love it,” Schnelle says. “I tell you what, I can stand in this outfield and just enjoy the fact that we are out in the summer and just enjoying something else that everyone else gets to play: a sport.”