Let’s Hear It For Geezer Beepball

By Kevin Burton

   In a recent post about attempting to move forward in a Covidized world, I mentioned a project (“The Covid Question Still Looms Over All,” March 24).

   I mentioned that some friends asked my wife and me to participate in a major collaborative effort, without giving details.

   As of Tuesday it appears the project is a go. So here are details.  

   This is a beep baseball project. This is a new beep baseball team. 

   Introducing the USA Legends, coming (we are pretty sure) to a field near you, or at least near me, in July. I am on board as a position player.

    In the United States we have a version of baseball with rules adapted for blind players.  The sport has expanded to other countries now, most notably Taiwan, which has won the world championship five times.

   The league that governs beep baseball is the National Beep Baseball Association.  Information about the sport is available on their website, www.nbba.org.

   I played in the league more than 20 years and coached some too.  I plan to post a more complete history of my participation in the game, maybe next Wednesday. Please stay tuned for that. 

   This latest venture began as an effort by players in the east to put the Columbus Vipers team back together for one year, to reunite old team mates in one last pursuit of, well, not sure what, but one last pursuit anyway.

    “Legends” is perhaps a pretentious team name. But the roster boasts no fewer than seven recipients of the Jim Quinn Award, bestowed by the NBBA for service to the game. It’s the sport’s highest honor.

   So the name fits. Whether we play like legends remains to be seen.

   There were other suggestions for the team name. Some of them (Goats, Codgers) make allusion to the advanced age of most of the players. Our oldest position player is 74.  One player declined an invitation to join the team because he had put in a pacemaker. 

   Such an aged squad desperately needs a team trainer. If we find one that person is the odds on favorite for team MVP.

   The NBBA World Series is scheduled for July 25 to Aug. 1 in Wichita, the closest major city to where I live.  The World Series was cancelled last year amid fears of spreading the virus.  So the entire beepball world is twice as fired up as usual to play a series.

   I agreed to participate because the tournament is so close to my home. One more time for all the old times.

   Beep Baseball players “retire” the way boxers do.  A high percentage of us come back to the game, back to the family.  I don’t believe any players who says he is retired, even myself. There isn’t anything in regular life that replicates that feeling of being a blind person playing a competitive sport.

   I however, was, am, good and retired. I joined this team to suit up one last time with my old Columbus team mates and because Legends coach Rob Weigand did me a real solid by agreeing to play for the last Wichita Sonics team I took to a World Series.  He did so on very short notice. That Sonics team would not have been nearly as good without him.

   It is also very good to be wanted by someone for something. That just doesn’t happen every day for me. 

   To get ready to play I have lost seven pounds so far, and am about four pounds above my playing weight when I played for the Sonics. I am hoping to get down to the weight I was while playing for the Kansas Allstars. It was with the Allstars that I won my only world championship, in 2007.

   I haven’t worked out much at all since retiring from beepball.  What I am doing now is mostly a life thing.  Being in better shape makes for a better quality of life.

  Of course I do hope to play better at this lighter weight, not to mention fitting into my existing baseball pants so I don’t have to buy new ones.

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