Play (Adaptive Blind) Ball!

Photograph of baseball used in adaptive blind baseball. Credit NY Adaptive Blind Baseball League.

By Lisa Kava

On Saturday, April 23rd, eighteen blind and visually impaired teenagers will have the opportunity to learn how to play a sport called “Adaptive Blind Baseball” at a special event in Riverside Park.

They will be taught by the coach of a local Adaptive Blind Baseball team called the NY Rockers, along with two players from the team. Rather than using a traditional baseball, they will play with balls that have built-in bells that ring and give audible cues as to direction and location.

The teens are part of the Youth Transition Program at Lighthouse Guild, a nonprofit organization located at 250 West 64th Street, which provides services to those who are blind and visually impaired.

Adaptive Blind Baseball was founded in Italy over 25 years ago and has recently caught on in the United States, Jeremy Morak, a spokesperson for Lighthouse Guild told West Side Rag. The baseballs used in Adaptive Blind Baseball are the same size as regular baseballs, Morak said.

“The ball is not pitched, rather the batter drops the ball and swings with one hand. An instructor stands at first base with a horn to indicate where the batter needs to run. Another instructor stands at second base with clappers to help the runner get to second base,” Morak explained. “The key difference between this sport and regular baseball is that once a batter starts running the bases they do not stop at first base. They touch the base but then have to keep running before the ball is thrown to second base.”

The NY Rockers is the first team of visually impaired athletes to play Adaptive Blind Baseball in the United States. The team was founded in 2015 and competed in Italy in 2019.

Participants in the Youth Transition Program.

The Youth Transition Program at Lighthouse Guild, which is free of charge, is “intended to support teens with vision loss to develop skills for independence, while also making friends, being creative and staying active,” Jaydan Mitchell, Youth Services Coordinator at Lighthouse Guild explained.

“The staying active piece has been particularly challenging through the pandemic, as adaptive recreational sports have been less available, and families have been understandably hesitant to let their kids participate,” Mitchell said. “We decided to honor Sports Eye Safety Month (April) with this fun and accessible activity.”

The Youth Transition Program meets every Saturday from October through May. Interested teens may submit an application in September. Social workers, career counselors, computer training, mobility training and field trips are all provided as part of the program.

The Adaptive Blind Baseball event will take place from 11 AM to 1 PM on Field 1 inside Riverside Park at 72nd Street. Peperino West Side, a local pizza place at 21 West End Avenue (60th Street) will be providing lunch for participants.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Glenn M. says:

      This is a very inspiring story. It is wonderful that visually impaired teenagers can enjoy the joy of baseball. A well deserved shout out to the team at Lighthouse Guild who are making this possible. As Ernie Banks famously said, Let’s Play Two!

    2. Bill S. says:

      Thank you Lisa for this wonderful and uplifting story.

    3. Melvin Esqueler says:

      Is there a way to make contributions to this worthy program? If so, please post a direct link. Thank you for sharing this story.

    4. Don Landolphi says:

      I wish to congratulate the Rockers and the Lighthouse Guild for having this event. Let it be known that there is a second team in NY City that is part of the Lions Club . My name is Don Landolphi and I am the Coordinator and Ambassador of Baseball for the Blind in the USA.
      Wishing the Rockers success in their event.

    5. Correction: The NY Rockers practice every Sunday from 4 – 6 PM on Field #1 in Central Park’s North Meadow. We meet up between 3:30 PM and 3:50 PM at the entrance to the park on Central Park West at 100th St.

    6. Just a quick correction that we actually meet on ballfield number one in Central Park‘s North Meadow every Sunday from 4 PM until 6 PM. anyone interested in playing volunteering or coaching should meet us between 3:30 PM and 3:50 PM at the entrance to the park on Central Park West at 100th St.

      • You can also reach us by email at: NYRockersUSA@gmail.com.
        We are the first adaptive blind baseball team in the United States / the founders of this type of adaptive baseball for the blind and visually impaired in the USA. We are also the only USA team to ever compete in an international competition at the 2019 Mole’s Cup in Rome, Italy and the ambassadors for Blind Baseball in the USA. We are working on league building and welcome players, volunteers and volunteer baseball coaches of all ages and genders!