America’s game brings normalcy to the blind

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Walter Argueta has been blind since 2007 after a 12-gauge shotgun accidentally impacted his face, causing him to lose his vision. Right handed, he now has a positive aspect to keep him optimistic with the Blind Center’s new program, Beep Ball, and enjoys living life again. Photo by Stephanie Clark.

Imagine this: You’re going about your day, everything is great. Perhaps you take a ride with some friends and maybe go out for some target practice with your shotguns.

Then, the unimaginable happens.

Suddenly, you hit the ground in pain, you can’t see a thing and as you put your hand to your face, you realize half of it isn’t there anymore. In an instant, your world is about to change.

That’s a similar story to what happened in 2007 to Walter Argueta, a Las Vegas resident due to a shotgun accident that almost cost him his life.

“I felt so helpless,” Argueta said. “I couldn’t see, I couldn’t do anything.”

As with most people who suffer a loss of sight or other bodily function, Argueta said that the first thing that comes to their mind is that “it’s over.” Depression rapidly ensues their life and their thoughts may travel to the extent of ending it all. “I tried suicide, alcohol and drugs. I just didn’t want to live anymore.”

Then, Argueta found the Blind Center of Nevada.

Last year, he was introduced to Beep Ball, a new spin on baseball that allows those who are legally blind to compete in a sport that America considers part of its heritage. Beep Ball was created in 1976 and grown into an international sport.

The only people allowed to be able to see during a game are the Pitcher, Catcher and Umpire. Everyone else must wear a blindfold to ensure that the playing field is level. Once the ball has been hit, silence must be maintained so the batter can find the base and the defense can find the ball. Photo by Stephanie Clark.

Al Van Gordon, Secretary of the Summerlin Lions Club and Second Vice District Governor for District 46 (Nevada) Lions Club, brought the game to the Blind Center in Las Vegas. The cause fits right in since the Lions Club has long been known for their recycling of used eyeglasses for many years.

After just one year, the team is planning on going national and hopefully competing in the World Series event in Florida. For the past year, they have been playing against different groups and organizations like the staff from UMC Las Vegas and the community.

The rules for Beep Ball are about the same. There are six innings per game and three outs per inning. Each team has their own pitcher and catcher who are able to see. The other players, both on and off the field, are blindfolded while in the field or at bat. The ball used is the same size as the larger softballs but it has a hole in it where an official can place a beeper.

When the ball is turned a certain way, it starts beeping. By listening to the beeping, batters can track the ball and hit it when it is time. If the ball is hit and travels at least 40 feet it is considered fair and a field operator will activate one of the bases, which contain sounding units at first and third base, and start giving off a buzzing sound when activated. The batter must reach that base before the ball is fielded by the opposing team. Unlike regular baseball, no mitts are required, there are six people in the field, there is no running from base to base and there are four strikes allowed per player. If a player reaches the sounding base in time, a run is scored. If a ball travels 180 feet in the air, it is considered a home run.

One other difference between baseball and beep ball: the spectators need to be completely silent to allow for the beeping and buzzing to be heard effectively. Not only does the batter need to be able to hear the ball and base, but the outfield players also need to be able to hear the ball to find it before the batter reaches their desired base.

For full details on the fascinating game that is bringing life back to the blind, check out their website at http://www.nbba.org/about_game.htm.

For the 2017 Lions Club convention, held at the Rising Star Sports Ranch on Feb. 25, the Blind Center of Nevada’s team came out to compete against the Lions Club members. To even up the teams, blindfolds were used on all players. But in the end, the team from the Blind Center won by a score of 2-0.

“This game has brought my life back to me,” Argueta told the MLN. “I have hope again. I have a purpose again. It’s an amazing feeling and I am so very thankful that we have this,” he said.

“We were honored and thrilled to be able to host this event,” said Andre Carrier, COO for the Rising Star Sports Ranch. “We love being able to help people from all walks of life in whatever way we can.”

The team, Las Vegas 20/20 will be joining the National Beep Baseball Association soon, allowing them to travel to compete with over 200 other teams nationwide. All money for their expenses is raised through private donations and the support of the Summerlin Lions Club. For more information or to make a donation, contact Bill and Judi DePew at wkmdjgd@rconnects.com .

 

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