New York may be all about the Yankees right now, but there’s another local team worth talking about — the Long Island Bombers, an adaptive baseball team for those who are blind or visually impaired.
Baseball for those who can’t see? You bet. And those who play, dive on the ground to field balls and run full speed toward the bases, all thanks to a “beep.”
Here’s how beep baseball works, according to The National Beep Baseball Association:
Because safety is a primary concern, there is no second base. First and third bases are four-foot tall padded cylinders with speakers, placed 100 feet down their respective baselines. The bases contain a module that buzzes when a batter gets a hit. The batter doesn’t know which base will buzz (someone activates it at random), so he or she must identify the correct base and run to it before the ball is fielded by the opponent. If the runner gets to the base in time, a run is scored. If not, it’s an out.
Pitchers are usually sighted a toss the buzzing baseball 20 feet to the batter. The pitcher must clearly verbalize two words: “Ready,” before the ball is about to be released, and “Pitch” or “Ball” as it’s released.
Defensive players (there are usually six) use their bodies and the ground to trap the hit balls. Once a defender secures the beeping ball, he or she shows it to the umpire for the call. So, essentially it’s a race between the batter getting to the base and the defender getting to the ball.
A game lasts six innings unless more time is needed to break a tie. Teams are co-ed.
But, back to the Long Island Bombers. Jim Hughes, the team’s captain for 10 years, has been to five World Series and won defensive all-star team honors twice. When not on the field, he’s an AP History teacher at Farmingdale High School.
Meghan Fink has played for the Bombers for eight seasons. The “dependable utility player” was introduced to the team after a demonstration at Adelphi University.
Nick Esposito has been with the Bombers since 2001. Four years prior, he began losing his sight due to Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy and was forced to withdraw from Pace University. It took some time for him to adjust to his new life with a white cane and guide dog, but he eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude from Pace. He learned about the Bombers from his teacher and now teammate, Jim Hughes.
Take a look at what this team can do: