Starting a new beep baseball team takes dedication and commitment. The following items are needed in order to be successful:
- Dedicated Volunteers
Funding is needed to buy and repair equipment, to pay for transportation and lodging for tournaments, to buy uniforms, and to pay registration fees.
Volunteers are needed to donate their time for a variety of tasks; the main ones being working with the team as Pitcher, Catcher and/or Field Spotters.
Other tasks might include providing transportation to and from practices and games, marking and setting up/taking down the field for practices, charging beep baseballs, maintaining the equipment, attending team meetings, and fund raising.
The last ingredient necessary for a beep baseball team is at least five or six blind or visually impaired individuals willing to play the game of beep baseball.
Beep Baseball Overview
Beep baseball can be an expensive sport. Money is needed for special equipment, travel, lodging and miscellaneous expenses. Special equipment is necessary to play the game. It requires special 16-inch audio softballs that beep which cost approximately $34 each, special 4-foot tall foam cylinder bases that buzz at a cost of $300 per set, and blindfolds that cost approximately $5 to $12 each for the batters and fielders (Note: All players must wear blindfolds.) .No special bats are required. Any legal softball bat is allowed. No special uniforms are required. However, if the team plays in tournaments and/or the World Series of Beep Baseball, they at least need to have T-shirts that have the player’s number imprinted on them.
In order to play other visually impaired beep baseball teams, most teams must travel to other cities for a weekend tournament or a scrimmage game. If they attend a weekend regional tournament, there are tournament entry fees, transportation costs and lodging fees.
Several dedicated volunteers are crucial for a team to survive. These volunteers may have several duties. A few key people are needed to be the pitcher, catcher and spotter(s). They must be willing to attend all practices and all tournaments which may require taking time off from their jobs to attend the weekend tournaments and taking a one week vacation to attend the World Series.
Continuity is vital! A pitcher must know his/her batters and know where to place the ball for each batter on his/her team. This knowledge comes from constant practice. The batters must know and trust their pitcher, they must be familiar with his/her rhythm for pitching, and have faith that he/she will get the ball on their favorite bat at just the right spot for a great hit.
The catcher must work closely with the pitcher to set an accurate target for each batter as well as to know if each batter is set up properly in the batter’s box.
Each field spotter needs practice learning the defensive strategies so the fielders will feel comfortable with their spotter(s) and trust their calls.
Beep Baseball teams usually have two practices a week and practice for approximately two hours per practice. Usually one practice is on a week night during the middle of the week and the other is on the weekend.
This method or practice schedule may not necessarily work for every team, but the more practice completed, the better a team will become.
Practice usually starts as soon as the weather cooperates. Volunteers are usually needed to transport the team members to and from practice. These people could rotate and are not required for every practice as long as someone is available for the task. A volunteer or spare player needs to be the base operator (activating the base so the runner can run to the buzzing base). One or two people are needed to mark the field and set up and tear down the bases for practice. This must be someone who has knowledge of how a beep baseball field is laid out. It could be one of the other volunteers such as the pitcher, catcher, etc. Someone else is needed to be sure that the equipment is ordered and is in working order in time for each game. Equipment should be ordered in the off-season (September – January) to allow time for the equipment to be made and shipped. This includes keeping the beep balls charged. It takes approximately twelve (12) hours to fully charge a beep baseball (NOTE: A beep baseball must be ly larg bbefore it can be recharged).
The local Pioneers group” are a good source for volunteers. Team meetings and organizational meetings will also occupy the volunteer’s time. Quite often players will need rides to and from the meetings.
Unless a team is lucky enough to get total corporate sponsorship, someone must coordinate the fund raising. This fund raising is usually done during the off-season from September to March and could include such activities as candy bar sales, raffles, bowl-a-thons and/or walk-a-thons, eat-ins/cookouts (chili, pancake, spaghetti, BBQ, etc.), craft sales, baseball tournaments, golf tournaments, etc. Everyone on the team must be willing to help with the fund raising.
If volunteers and players pull together and share in the various tasks, and the team is successful with their fund raising efforts, they should have an operational beep baseball team. If the team also is fortunate to obtain corporate sponsorship, they could have some relief from the eternal fund raising activities.
Getting a beep baseball team started–and keeping it going–takes work, organization, and dedication, but it can be fun and rewarding.