Blind Baseball A Hit in The U.S.

July 3, 2023

Posted in Able News

By Jeremy Morak

Adaptive sports and accessible athletic activities for people with disabilities have been gaining popularity globally for years.

One sport that is entering its golden era in the U.S., is the adaptive sport of Blind Baseball. Founded in Italy in 1998 and first introduced in the U.S. in 2015, Blind Baseball offers people who are blind and visually impaired the opportunity to compete on a baseball field in ways never before possible. The sport also cultivates a safe community that allows players to enhance skills needed for independent living and socialization in a fun and healthy environment. The sport incorporates aspects of traditional baseball while adding accessible components designed to provide players auditory cues and signals. Each player, whether batting, running, or fielding, wears a blindfold to create equal ability with people with varying degrees of visual impairment. Players rely on sound, from bells inside a baseball size ball to clappers and an electronic horn for base runners to safely navigate the diamond.

Fielders also heavily rely on communication from their teammates at other positions to help locate the ball once it’s in play. These requirements culminate in a way that teaches players to work in a team setting and promote individual responsibility.

The U.S. Blind Baseball Association (USBBA), a charitable, nonprofit organization was formed earlier this year by hall-of-fame college baseball coach Donald Landolphi and Ed Plumacher. The organization is contracted by and works closely with AIBXC, the international governing body for this adaptive sport.

In cooperation with AIBXC, the newly formed USBBA is dedicated to the development, management and promotion of blind baseball throughout America. Pres. and CEO of the USBBA Ed Plumacher, an assistive technology specialist at Lighthouse Guild, coordinated an immersive training clinic for American players to travel to Bologna, Italy in May with help from the AIBXC and support from Lighthouse Guild.

The week-long clinic included practicing with coaches of the Bologna White Sox, one of 12 Blind Baseball teams in Italy and a scrimmage against the Bologna squad. Players, coaches and sighted volunteers from New York had a unique opportunity to learn more about the sport overall and practice the necessary skills to compete internationally.

The clinic’s success forecasts blind baseballs’ continued growth in the U.S. explains the impact that adaptive sports, and Blind Base- ball specifically, can have on people dealing with low vision, “I am a huge advocate for the physical, emotional and psychological benefits that adaptive sports provide to blind and visually impaired individuals,” said Plumacher.

“Sports have been a major part of my personal and professional life and adaptive sports had a dramatic impact on my acceptance and acclamation to blindness. The clinic has allowed us to develop the skills we will need to continue to grow and to compete in next year’s World Baseball Softball Confederation’s Blind Baseball International Cup.”

Eva Trevisan, Vice President of AIBXC, specializing in international development, attended the clinic and was delighted to see the progress made in just a few days. She elaborated on her goals for expanding the sport internationally, “My dream is that one day this sport can compete in the Paralympics. I also hope we can demonstrate how much this sport can change lives for people with visual impairment.”

Jeremy Morak is a Marketing Manager at Lighthouse Guild.

Join our Mission

Lighthouse Guild is dedicated to providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals.