Beep Baseball, An Adaptive Sport for BVI Teens and Adults. Meet Doug Van Duyne and Learn About the Sport and Upcoming Kids Day Event for Teens

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Full Transcript Below Show Summary:

Beep Baseball is an adapted form of Baseball and is played by Visually Impaired/Blind players wearing “Sleep Shades” to level the playing field for everyone. The ball is a 16 inch round softball with a beeping sound that allows the defensive team locate the ball.

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6 members field a team with a sighted picture pitching to their own team. The sport of Beep Baseball originated right here in Minnesota and we sat down with Doug Van Duyne, Manager of the Minnesota Millers.

Doug tells us about the game, the history and an opportunity coming up in June for teens to learn more about Beep Baseball and get a chance to run, hit and participate in a fun filled day with others sharing their love of the game.

The Minnesota Millers are already practicing and preparing for the big Bash in Chicago and their fund raiser is kicking off tomorrow to help support the teams travels and expenses. You can find out more about getting involved and support the Millers on the web on the web at www.MNMillers.org

Here is the information about the Miller’s Kids Beep Ball Day event:

The Minnesota Millers Beep Baseball Team will be hosting a kids beepball day to teach the game of beep baseball to kids.

Blind & Visually impaired kids, 15 and under are invited to participate & learn the game. It will be a modified version of the International game incorporating a T-Ball version of the sport.

WHEN: June 15th, 2019

WHERE: Casey Lake Park—North St. Paul, MN. Middle Field behind main ball field

Time: 10AM—Noon

If the weather is hot, please bring a bottle of water.

To sign up or get more information, visit www.MNMillers.org/kidsor email info@MNMillers.org

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Storeand Google Play Store.

Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Job Insights Support Groupand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Full Transcript

Doug Van Duyne: What we're trying to do is reach out to kids that are 15 and under, boys and girls, that are blind or visually impaired and just introduce them to the sport.

Jeff Thompson: Beep baseball.

Doug Van Duyne: You've got some kids running around. Let them know it's okay to run, which is probably counter intuitive to anybody with a visual impairment.

Jeff Thompson: Meet Doug Van Duyne coach of the Minnesota Millers Beep Baseball Team.

Doug Van Duyne: We use a ball that's a 16-inch ball that's been modified. And the ball actually beeps. We want them to focus in on that cadence, which is kind of I'll clap with it, set, ready, pitch, swing.

Jeff Thompson: Learn about the game. Learn about how you can help support the Minnesota Millers Beep Baseball Team. And you can find the Millers on the web at mmmillers.org.

Doug Van Duyne: At the end of the day it's the ability, right? We don't focus on a disability. We focus on the ability.

Jeff Thompson: Welcome to Blind Abilities. I'm Jeff Thompson. Beep baseball. It's a sport that is adaptive baseball for people who are blind. And I got the manager of the Minnesota Millers in the studio today, Doug Van Duyne. How are you doing?

Doug Van Duyne: I'm great. Thanks for having me on.

Jeff Thompson: You bet. This is really cool because it's a really neat sport and you got a big event coming up in June that a lot of people can learn about it. Youth can learn about beep baseball.

Doug Van Duyne: That's correct. We're pretty excited about that. What we're trying to do is reach out to kids that are 15 and under, boys and girls, that are blind or visually impaired throughout the whole state. Our initial effort has been to reach out through mobility and visual teachers in the state and just introduce them to the sport. So it'll be a very low stress kind of situation. An introductory thing. Get some kids running around. Let them know it's okay to run, which is probably counter intuitive to anybody with a visual impairment. It's a completely safe environment and it's a great way to get some fresh air in your lungs.

Doug Van Duyne: I meet some other folks that might share in some of the same struggles and tribulations that the community deals with probably on a daily basis.

Jeff Thompson: Since we're talking about people learning about beep baseball, why don't you give us a brief description of what it is.

Doug Van Duyne: That'd be great. It's a modified version of America's national pastime. We use a ball that is a 16-inch ball that's been modified by the Pioneers, which are the retired folks from the telephone company. And the ball actually beeps. What we do is we play ball. The pitcher and the catcher are actually on your team and they're trying to get you to hit the ball. And once the ball's put into play under the national rules, the bases are 100 feet away. There's first and third and one of those two will start emitting a buzzing sound. You have to run to either first or third, whichever one is activated and get to that base before one of the six fielders playing defense takes possession of the ball. And it's pretty straight forward. There's no throwing the ball after the fact. The field is divided up into zones and there are folks that can see, that have vision, that's what we call spotters. And they will yell out one-time what zone that ball is in so that the defenders have the opportunity to get a jump start to that area and try to get the ball in their possession before the runner gets to the buzzing base.

Doug Van Duyne: I should also add the pitcher and catcher are sighted. That helps. And that's pretty much it. It's pretty exciting. The teams that we play from across the country are extremely competitive. A lot of athletes have lost either their total vision or partial vision for any number of reasons but take this extremely seriously. But here's the greatest part of the whole sport, on the field we're extremely competitive, but the minute the game is over it's one big happy family. And that's really the essence of sports and the way I think of sports.

Jeff Thompson: Can you describe the equipment that each player is expected to have or that they use during a game?

Doug Van Duyne: Sure. So every player, whether you're on defense or at bat, is actually wearing a blindfold. So those that have some vision, whatever that is, the field is completely level. You can't see anything. So, that's the one piece of required equipment that is a must. And the umpires will and expect to make sure there's no cheating. Unfortunately, there are some that try to get an edge. And there's a softball bat. And that's really the only equipment. You can wear a glove if you're in the field, but actually most of the players find that the glove is a hindrance as opposed to just using your hands, being very tactile, and cradling the ball with their hands versus trying to get it in a glove. Other than that a good pair of shoes is always great. Some folks wear knee pads because there's a lot of diving on the ground.

Doug Van Duyne: I should also mention that we always play on 100% grass. So it's not even played on a baseball field. Most of the games are played on a soccer field that has been marked off in accordance with the field dimensions like a baseball field with 175 feet being a home run. So if you hit the ball in the air 175 feet, it's an automatic home run, which gives you two points. The ball does have to travel 40 feet for it to be considered fair. The pitcher's 20 feet away, pretty close, but there's really no other specialized equipment other than those buzzing bases and the beeping ball.

Jeff Thompson: So you kind of key in, when you're up to bat you kind of keying in on that beep. And do they say pitch or anything when it's released?

Doug Van Duyne: No.

Jeff Thompson: Okay.

Doug Van Duyne: That's a great question. So the pitcher does use a cadence. And there is required verbiage that's used. And it's either set, ready, pitch or set, ready, ball. Pitch or ball are the only two words that are interchangeable, but that sequence has to be the same. So when the pitcher says set, that lets the defenders know something's about to happen. The batters don't really key in on the beeping of the ball. In fact, in our batting practices we use a dead ball. And we want them to focus in on that cadence, which is kind of, I'll clap with it, set, ready, pitch, and on the fourth one they, we want them to swing. That's the rhythm of our cadence. Set, ready, pitch, swing. The beeping is really for the defenders to try and find the ball once it's in play.

Jeff Thompson: So you just get that rhythm down and boom, boom, boom, swing.

Doug Van Duyne: Yup. And as long as they swing consistently our pitcher will put the ball in the strike zone based on that person's swing.

Jeff Thompson: Well that's kind of sweet! Now you're talking about it's a big family after the game. And that might explain why you're going to Bolingbrook, Illinois for a Beep Baseball Bash.

Doug Van Duyne: Yeah, that's probably the closest tournament to us. There've been a couple already down in Texas. There's a couple coming up in Indiana, but Chicago, it's a six-hour drive, but it's the closest tournament to us. The Lyons of that community, Bolingbrook and the surrounding communities, do a great job in putting that on. There are eight teams and it's always probably the top seven teams that go. We are kind of in the middle of the pack in terms of ranking naturally, but these are all the top 10 teams for sure. And we like it because they're good teams. So that really, early on in the season, allows us to see what we have to work on prior to the World Series.

Doug Van Duyne: It is a family atmosphere. Everybody looks forward to seeing each other down there in Chicago. Pretty much it's the same teams that come. And then the World Series, which we'll probably talk about a little bit, is a week-long. And so many families take that as their vacation just to reconnect with people from all over the country. There's a team from Canada, a team from Taiwan. Don't know that the team from the Dominican Republic is coming this year, but there are teams from all over that come for that week-long tournament at the end of the summer.

Jeff Thompson: So you're the Minnesota Millers, but you get around. I mean Chicago to Oklahoma, playing teams from out of the country. That's quite a festive type of deal. I can see why people would want to use a vacation because ... You've been in this for a few years, so you probably know a lot of people that'll be attending.

Doug Van Duyne: Yeah. And like I say when we're playing, they're probably not my best friend. But once the games are over for those of us that are able to have adult beverages, we'll be yucking it up in the bar and we're just one big happy family. It’s just a really unique thing. I've been coaching since I've been 17 years old. I've coached a lot of sports. And I've seen a lot of ugly in sports. There's none of that in this program.

Jeff Thompson: That's really cool. How many years has the Minnesota Millers been in existence?

Doug Van Duyne: Oddly enough the sport started in Minnesota back in the late 70s. And at that time there were four teams in Minnesota. And it kind of grew, but I would say in the early 90s the programs in Minnesota fell apart and that we resurrected it. Our first World Series was in 2010. We were able to get enough people together that really wanted to play. So, since 2010 we've been playing. So, this will be 2019, nine years.

Jeff Thompson: Wow! Time flies when you're having fun, right?

Doug Van Duyne: Exactly. Exactly.

Jeff Thompson: So what kind of arrangements do you have? Spring comes, you have spring training, practices. You get together and see how the team's doing, see how everybody's interest is in it. And of course, you're going to interest a lot of youth here by having your event here. I think it's June 15?

Doug Van Duyne: Yup. That's right, June 15th. We try to get indoors. It's Minnesota, right? And like this year there was snow on the ground not too long ago.

Jeff Thompson: Yeah, it could be tonight.

Doug Van Duyne: Exactly. So, we try to get indoors and do some batting. Just get people loosen up a little bit. See who's coming back. Making sure there's no injuries and just starting to get loosened up. We had our first practice two weeks ago outside. It has really good. We had one last Saturday. This Saturday we'll be doing our fundraiser, but then we'll practice again the following Saturday. So up until June 9th or 7, 8, 9 actually is the Chicago tournament. We have a lot of weekends. And we have people from, throughout the metro area. A lot live in the Twin City metro area. Few come up from Rochester. I have one of the players out by Waconia. So, as you can imagine logistically pulling people together can be daunting at times because everybody, of the most part, needs a ride of some sort.

Jeff Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well that's quite a commitment. I mean people are committed so they must be enjoying it to keep coming back.

Doug Van Duyne: I think so. One of the unique things ... We have a player from Hudson. Todd Paulson is his name. Great guy. Has been losing his vision due to a virus that he had. It was a cold or pneumonia. And this was going back several years. An avid softball player all his life. Found out about us. Came over. Been a great asset to the team not only in terms of a player, but as a person. But through beep ball has connected with a young lady and they're engaged now. So how cool is that? I mean it's not just a sport. It transcends into life and life skills and relationships and things of that nature.

Jeff Thompson: Well it's really neat that it's a sport. It's an activity. And it's a passion once you get a taste of it.

Doug Van Duyne: Yeah, if you don't me putting a shameless plug in.

Jeff Thompson: Oh no, plug away! That's what it's all about.

Doug Van Duyne: Nice. So, this Saturday at Tom Reid's Hockey City we have our fundraiser. It the Minnesota Millers Beer Bash/Silent Auction. And that runs from 1:00 to 4:00. You can buy a mug online for $15. It's a Minnesota Millers collectable mug. And then you get to drink free until the keg runs out. Or you don't have to drink beer and you can just come on down and put in some bids on some pretty nice items. Package from the Twins Diamond Club and all kinds of good stuff.

Jeff Thompson: There you go. So, I suggest anybody that's listening check it out. Check them out this Saturday at Tom Reid's. That's Saturday, what is that? 1:00 to 4:00 right?

Doug Van Duyne: Yeah, 1:00 to 4:00, correct.

Jeff Thompson: Another opportunity in June, the 15th, for the youth to come out there. But if you're interested just to go out there to check it out, talk to everybody. Seems like a friendly bunch.

Doug Van Duyne: Yeah, we get along pretty good. We have a good time. We like to keep it loose. We don't get too serious about it. Of course, nobody goes out to lose, but at the same time it's all about building confidence in a variety of levels. And building successes.

Doug Van Duyne: Our website is mmmillers.org and we try to keep that up to date so there's a ton of information on there if anybody wants to check that out. We post our practices there. We post our events on there. It's a good way to keep in touch.

Jeff Thompson: Yeah, I really like the name because my dad used to watch the Minnesota Millers back in the day. Was it the Minneapolis Millers or Minnesota Millers?

Doug Van Duyne: Minneapolis Millers, yup, back in the day. You bet. Well maybe we'll have to get you out there Jeff.

Jeff Thompson: That sounds like fun.

Doug Van Duyne: We'll slap a blindfold on you. No commitment on your part but check it out. See first-hand.

Jeff Thompson: No reason not to show up on Saturday either to support the team and get my mug.

Doug Van Duyne: There you go!

Jeff Thompson: And you can do that in advance. Someone can go on the website, mmmillers.org right now and order a mug. They're only $15.

Doug Van Duyne: Yup. And then it gets you all the beer you like to drink till the keg runs out. And if you're not a beer drinker you could put pop in it. Nobody will give you a hard time.

Jeff Thompson: There you go! And supporting this, this will help you get to the World Series down in Oklahoma for the big games.

Doug Van Duyne: Yup. And that's exactly why we do it. All the money that we generate minus whatever the cost is goes directly to the players. A lot of the players have limited income, just cost. But it roughly costs everybody about $5000 to participate in the tournaments and the World Series between travel and lodging and all that stuff. Every dime we get we put right back into the players to help them offset any costs.

Jeff Thompson: Yeah, I mean even taking a van or getting transportation in Chicago or anywhere. That's all you guys putting this together because of your passion, your love for the game. And it costs money to do all that. So, if anybody's listening, wants to help support this great sport go ahead. That's mmmillers.org.

Doug Van Duyne: Yup. There's a donate now button on there too. So, they don't even have to buy a mug. And like I say, a dime at a time works for us.

Jeff Thompson: But the mug's pretty good. I guess it's a frosted glass with two baseball bats on an X. Well you describe it.

Doug Van Duyne: Yeah, it's actually our logo that we have temporary tattoos for and the like. But it's kind of a tribal look. It's a home plate, two bats crossed over it with a ball in there and some tribal scribing that doesn't translate to any significant meaning. And with the word Minnesota over the top and Millers under the bottom in a Nordic font to it.

Jeff Thompson: There you go. Well Doug, good luck with all your games this year. Hopefully people come out, check them out. I hope they do because it's been around for a while. And I remember we practice beep ball a long time ago. And that beep, beep, beep, but no one told me about that cadence. That makes sense now. We were just listening for the beep. I like that. Boom, boom, boom, swing.

Doug Van Duyne: It is kind of addicting whether you're sighted or not. When you see the game, everybody is just amazed at the level of activity. And really at the end of the day it's the ability, right? We don't focus on a disability. We focus on the ability.

Jeff Thompson: Great. That's awesome. Well Doug Van Duyne, thank you for coming on to represent the Minnesota Millers and good luck this weekend.

Doug Van Duyne: Thanks a lot Jeff. We appreciate the opportunity to spread the word and we'll have a beer together this weekend.

Jeff Thompson: All right. That's Tom Reid's, 1:00 to 4:00. Get your mug. We'll see you there.

Doug Van Duyne: Thanks.

Jeff Thompson: For more podcasts with the blindness perspective check us out on the web at www.blindabilities.com. On Twitter, @BlindAbilities and download the free Blind Abilities app from the App Store and on Google Play. That's two words. Blind Abilities. You can also enable the Blind Abilities Skill on your Amazon device. Just say enable Blind Abilities.

Jeff Thompson: A big shout out goes out to Chee Chau for his beautiful music. And you can follow Chee Chau on Twitter @LCheeChau.

[Music] [Transition noise] -When we share

-What we see

-Through each other's eyes...

[Multiple voices overlapping, in unison, to form a single sentence]

...We can then begin to bridge the gap between the limited expectations, and the realities of Blind Abilities.

Jeff Thompson:

For more podcasts with the blindness perspective:

Check us out on the web at www.BlindAbilities.com On Twitter @BlindAbilities

Download our app from the App store: 'Blind Abilities'; that's two words.

Or send us an e-mail at:

info@blindabilities.com Thanks for listening.

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Storeand Google Play Store.

Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Job Insights Support Groupand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

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