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Big League Stew

'Beep baseball' lets blind people play too

David Brown
Big League Stew

The sport is called "Beep baseball" and it's a version of baseball tailored for blind people and those with visual impairments. According to the National Beep Baseball Association's web site, the game was invented in 1964 but has existed in its present form, more or less, since 1995. As the name implies, the game involves making the ball "beep" electronically so that it can be heard. The bases make sounds too, and batters run to one or the other — there's only first and third, no second base — after making contact.

The video above shows a recent tournament at Indianapolis, played by teams from around the Midwest. The people who play are like those with sight who play baseball: They're competitors. The NBBA has 30 teams registered in 2014, according to its web site.

Says Darnell Brooks, the general manager and a player for the Indianapolis Thunder:

"Just because you're blind or visually impaired, it doesn't mean you can give up on life, or give up on sports."

Anyone with a so-called "disability" should heed those words. (Also: "Thunder" is a clever nickname. It can be heard but not seen.)

Beep baseball does have a few other differences when compared to the game that most are used to:

• Games are six innings long, unless they need extras.

• Batters get four strikes instead of three.

• Teams pitch to their own players and use sighted pitchers and catchers. Pitchers, by rule, must announce that the ball is on its way.

• A defensive alignment consists of six players in the outfield, along with sighted guides.

• There's no circling the bases; if an outfielder picks up the batted ball before the batter reaches first, the batter is out. If he doesn't, it's a run.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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