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Seeing baseball differently: Blind baseball in the North West

Photo credit: SAVI Northwest
From Bases Loaded 29.12.

Baseball in Manchester is available to the visually impaired with the growth of blind baseball in the North West.

Gina Amos, part of the fantastic team that organized this year’s Alex Hall tournament, will sadly not be playing for her beloved Seagulls team as she is getting more involved in Liverpool’s Blind Baseball League, which also runs on a Tuesday.

Currently there are five clubs catering for blind baseball: Lancashire Lions, a multi visually impaired (VI) sports club, Manchester Baseball Club, Liverpool Trojans, Sheffield Strikers VI Baseball and South Wales Dragons based in Cardiff. The first ever UK-based blind baseball tournament took place at the Norman Wells Ballpark in Bootle, Liverpool on 17th June this year and the Blind Trojans, took home the winners’ trophy. The tournament included teams from Lancashire, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. Last weekend also saw Parrs Wood play host to the first Inter Nations Club Cup where Blind Trojans came second to the Leonessa Baseball per ciechi from Brescia, Italy, with trophies presented by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Yasmine Dar.

Gina
Gina in her Liverpool Trojans kit.

Blind baseball in the UK started in 2019 with a collaboration between Lancashire Lions and Manchester Baseball Club. Since then it has expanded: teams from this country have played in Rome and Milan, and in 2022 a GB team took part in the first WBSC (World Baseball Softball Confederation) Blind Baseball International Cup in the Netherlands, winning a silver medal against Italy in the final.

So how does Blind Baseball work? Teams consist of visually impaired players and sighted players, the latter providing assistance by communicating with the players, telling runners when and where to run, and, on defence, guiding the fielders towards the ball. The ball is a hard rubber ball containing two small bells. The diamond is laid out as you’d expect, except there are two 2nd bases, to keep runners and fielders apart (to avoid collisions). Runners advance around the diamond following the sound of clappers wielded by the (sighted) base coaches. Fielders can get the runners out by tagging the runner or the base, just like in the familiar form of the sport. There is no pitcher: batters put the ball in play by hitting it out of their hand or by tossing it the air and hitting it. The umpire alerts the fielders that the ball is “in play”.

Blind baseball is an inclusive and exciting sport that showcases the abilities of visually impaired individuals, emphasizing teamwork, communication, and spatial awareness. It allows participants to enjoy the thrill of baseball while accommodating their specific needs. Gina’s involvement with blind baseball initially came by accident, having met some blind players practising at a cricket facility close to her home. She has since supported taster sessions in Liverpool and was a regular part of the winter training that immediately preceded this, their first competitive season.

The UK Blind Baseball Association (UKBBA), which is based in Manchester, works with British Blind Sport and BSUK along with both the British Baseball and Softball Federations BBF and BSF.

Get involved

Sports and Activities for the Visually Impaired Northwest

Manchester Baseball Club

Manchester Baseball Club’s VI team are their visually impaired baseball team. They train at Wythenshawe Park. Contact the club for further info.

Liverpool Trojans

The Blind Trojans are part of Liverpool Trojans Baseball Club. You can find more info on their website.

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