SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2018

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Page 36 of 75 January 2018 37 SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue In 1964, Charley Fairbanks, a telephone worker created what today is known as beep ball, a game for the visually impaired. A decade later, a new ball was designed for the game and then rules and teams were established. The NBBA is a national volunteer organization that promotes amateur beep baseball in the U.S. and internationally. In beep baseball, the pitcher and batter are on the same team and the sighted pitcher gives commands: "Set, ready, ball." Once the batter makes contact with the ball, the batter runs to either the traditional first base or third base. With buzzing bases indicating where to run, batters run and tackle the base, which is shaped like a tall, padded cylinder, before one of six fielders pick up the beeping ball. If the batter does not reach the beeping ball before the opposing team catches the ball, that player is out. While a bat, ball and baseball are used for beep baseball, they come in different sizes and shapes, with the ball being much heavier. Play- ers also wear blindfolds because some players have limited sight while others are blind. Games last six innings and a batter is allowed four strikes and one pass ball. A hit ball must travel a minimum of 40 feet on the field for it to be considered fair. If the ball travels 170 feet in the air, it is considered a home run and is worth two points as long as the batter makes it to the buzzing base in 30 seconds. If a ball hits the pitcher, it is ruled a "no pitch." Some say defense may be the most chal- lenging aspect of beep baseball. The game of beep baseball includes one or two sighted spotters on the field who will call zone num- bers indicating where the ball is traveling and players must then coordinate their movements on the field. Also, different from regular base- ball, defensive players do not throw the ball to another player for an out. Outs are earned by fielding the ball before the runner reaches the base, with the umpire making the call. In the NBBA's history, less than a dozen balls have been caught in the air, but if it happens, it's counted as three outs or finishes the inning. Over the years, beep baseball has evolved into a competitive game that has expanded internationally. Last August, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Sports Commission hosted the 34th National Beep Baseball Association's World Series which brought almost 500 blind and visually impaired athletes from the United States, Canada and as far away as the Dominican Republic and Taiwan. With teams from other countries competing in the world series, the organization is hopeful that other countries will form teams allowing the sport to be incorporated into Paralympics. This years' NBBA world series heads to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, hosted by the Visit Eau Claire Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sunday, July 29 through August 5. Games begin Tuesday, July 31, 2018. n National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) Blake Beaudreaux, President More than a hundred competitors from around the world will participate in the 59th Annual Lumberjack World Championships, also known as the Olympics of the Forest, by participants and the events' enthusiastic fans. This year, the Lumberjack World Champi- onships return to Hayward, Wisc., competing in 21 events for more than $50,000 in prizes in the Lumberjack Bowl, July 19-21, 2018. The World Championships include strength, agil- ity and endurance events in chopping, log rolling, pole climbing, sawing, boom running and throwing. The event began in 1960 and is one of Northwest Wisconsin's biggest and most popular competitions of the summer, draw- ing more than 10,000 spectators to watch lumberjacks compete. Athletes are tested on their tech- nical ability with an axe or chain saw, or through endurance competitions, such as the standing block chop or underhand block chop, while others compete in the springboard chop, which combines the skills of a chop- per with those of a high climber. Both men and women compete for the title of All-Around Lady Jill and for the Tony Wise All-Around Champion. The Lumberjack World Champion- ships is a leader in recognizing women and the organization says the female athletes and competitions are popular among fans. n The 59th Annual Lumberjack World Championships Diane McNamer, Executive Director

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