Lighthouse for the Blind-St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Lighthouse for the Blind-St. Louis

A batter swings at a softball equipped with an electronic beeper at the Ultimate Beepball Championship Tournament.  July 13, 2019
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

The sun was fierce — and so was the competition — on a recent Saturday in South St. Louis County as visually impaired athletes from around the region took to the baseball field alongside players with normal vision.

The balls beeped, the bases buzzed, and the players all wore blindfolds — except for the pitchers and catchers. 

The annual event is known as the Ultimate Beepball Championship Tournament. It’s organized by MindsEye Radio, a nonprofit in Belleville that provides programming for people with vision loss. Beepball — also called beep baseball — is a form of the sport invented in the 1960s for people with impaired vision.

It's a little early for baseball at Busch Stadium, but this weekend you can catch a game of beepball just outside the stadium.

Beepball is a version of softball, adapted for people who are blind or visually impaired. Along with some slight modifications of the rules, it features a beeping ball and two buzzing bases. Players wear blindfolds, except for the pitcher and catcher, who are actually on the same team, and two spotters.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 23, 2011 - Just days before Christmas, it was business as usual at theLighthouse for the Blindin Overland, a nonprofit corporation that has employed blind St. Louisans since the Great Depression.

Jonathan Clemons, 34, who is legally blind, was about to wrap up his shift for the day. He and several other workers seated at a long table were carefully assembling packets of medical supplies that would eventually find their way into the hands of emergency medical technicians. It's a contract job for a commercial company that sells pre-packaged medical kits to first responders.