Baseball fever reached a climax when the Brother Elephants won the 2003 Taiwan Series. But many people do not realize that the blind also enjoy playing baseball.
In fact, visually-impaired people not only play baseball, they also have their own baseball team, their own equipment, a regular practice schedule and their own base of supporters.
"Actually, many people who cannot see are involved in baseball games, and not just as fans. They play baseball just like normal people do," said Chen Yun-ying (
"They [blind players] see desire, determination and teamwork in the game and in many cases they even out-perform sighted players. Playing baseball is not a privilege reserved for sighted people," Chen said.
Beep baseball, as its name implies, is a ball game played with a normal softball containing a small sound module, which helps blind people keep track of the ball.
In beep baseball, each team is permitted six turns to bat, during which it attempts to score runs by having its batters hit the beeping ball into fair territory and reach a buzzing base.
Each team has its own sighted pitcher and catcher.
"There are now six beep baseball teams in Taiwan. Two are in Taipei, three in Taichung and one in Ilan," said Lin Hsin-hong (
Lin suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease in which eyesight degenerates with age. He will eventually become completely blind.
Lin and his team represented Taiwan at the Beep Baseball World Series in Los Angeles in 1997.
"After playing beep baseball, I regained confidence and hope. I found that I could participate in sports just like other people. It felt like I was reborn," Lin said.
The game enables players to move around without the assistance of a cane, guide dog or helper.
"The feeling of freedom is great," he said.
Four star pitchers of the Brother Elephants showed their support by attending a news conference to introduce the sport to the media.
Pitcher Liu Wen-mao (
"I respect their [blind players'] resolution and perseverance, which is exemplary," Liu said.
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