Fisher Cats host baseball game for the blind

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Fisher Cats President Mike Ramshaw takes a swing at the Beep Ball on Aug. 26 during a game organized by Future In Sight. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, NH – Northeast Delta Dental Stadium has hosted thousands of baseball games, including one very special one recently.

On Sunday morning, the stadium played host to a friendly game of Beep Baseball, a variation of baseball designed to encourage competition and exercise among the visually impaired.

Future in Sight and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats coordinated the creation of the event, which allowed a group of children and adults with visual impairment to face-off in a Beep Baseball game against members of the Fisher Cats staff.

While most of the event’s participants never played Beep Baseball before, some, such as Randy Pierce, had played it in the past. Pierce gradually lost his sight over time, but his wife Tracy noted that the sport created an outlet for people like Randy looking for a way to engage in sports despite their disability.

“I think what this game is today is showing that even if someone is blind, that doesn’t mean they can’t do anything,” she said. “I really want to applaud the Fisher Cats to help Future in Sight showcase what blind people can do.”

Although Sunday’s exhibition was more casual than the average Beep Baseball game, the general concept was the same: a pitcher throws a large, beeping baseball toward a teammate, who tries to hit it and run toward one of two pylon “bases.”

After the batter hits the ball, the pylons emit a tone. Fielders from the other team then attempt to pick up the beeping ball before the runner reaches the pylon. If the runner reaches the pylon first, they score a run for their team. If the fielders pick up the ball first, the runner is out.

Due to the wide spectrum of visual impairment, all participants must wear a blindfold to create an equitable experience.

That experience gave Fisher Cats President Mike Ramshaw a new appreciation for the courage visually impaired individuals possess in dealing with their disabilities.

“I never thought I’d play baseball with a blindfold on, but having the pay attention and listen, you’re listening to the crowd and the ball, and it’s really hard to run with the blindfold. Pardon the pun, but it was really eye opening,” said Ramshaw. “Knowing how challenging it is for these athletes with Future in Sight, hats off to them. It’s definitely not easy.”

After 90 minutes of play, the Future in Sight Knights defeated the Fisher Cats staff by a score of 15-11, but there was a feeling that everyone at the event left with a victory.

Nancy Druke, vice president of programming services for Future in Sight, was grateful to the Fisher Cats organization for their assistance in putting on the event.

“They’ve been more than supportive, they offered anything they can,” she said. “I think they have a new respect for the blind and visually impaired and everything they have to do to go about their daily lives.”

CORRECTION: Ramshaw is the team’s president, not vice president of sales as earlier stated. We apologize for the error.