We play ball! The sport of beep baseball has been around for decades. The Greater Cleveland Beepball League and the Cleveland Scrappers team are entering their 40th season. The softball we play with beeps and our bases buzz. We play the games we play for more than the thrill of recapturing our youth. We play the game because of what it allows us to do. The Cleveland Scrappers and the Greater Cleveland Beepball League for 40 years has enabled blind and visually impaired athletes the opportunity to engage in a competitive sport where we work as a team. Prior to playing beep baseball many of our players had never had the opportunity to play team sports where they are a factor and not a passive participant. We aim to provide opportunity and to change perceptions of what people who are blind and visually impaired have to contribute.
We play ball in a league called the National Beep Baseball League. As we said, our balls beep and our bases buzz. The pitcher works as part of the offensive team. When the batter puts the ball in play there are six defenders attempting to get the ball. The batter runs to either first or third base, which are activated at random. If the fielder gets the ball off the ground and in control before the batter hits the base it is an out. If the batter beats out the fielders, it is a run scored.
One thing our spectators come away from our games with is that beep baseball is in general a more exciting sport than baseball or softball. In a well-played game, there is action from beginning to end. People see ball players running, diving and tackling bases.
The Cleveland Scrappers have been playing since August 1983. Kevin Barrett and Marty Skutnik founded our team, having played a more passive form of the sport that was played in the 60’s and 70’s. They learned about the National Beep Baseball Association at a USABA track and field competition. Their love of baseball led them to start a NBBA team in Cleveland, Ohio. The Scrappers competed in their first NBBA World Series in 1987 and have attended 23 World Series finishing 3rd in 2004 and 4th at the 2006 WS hosted in Cleveland. We have had 7 of our players receive honors for offense or defense at the World Series and have 4 recipients of the Jim Quinn Award (the highest honor in beep baseball). The Cleveland Scrappers won an ESPY in 2021 for their creative efforts to keep players involved during the pandemic through use of equipment and video remote coaching.
We are currently the only team in Ohio. We travel to regional tournaments and the NBBA World Series for most of our games. We practice twice per week from April through July and play anywhere from 8 to 22 games per season. Because of the cost of travel beep baseball can be an expensive sport. We always attend at least 2 tournaments (Indianapolis and Chicago) per season for 8 games. The NBBA World Series is in a different city each year. For a complete season, including the World Series, we need to raise $25,000-30,000. To attempt to raise that much money we hold many fund raisers and apply for many grants. The Greater Cleveland Beepball League is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. It has been very challenging to have a full season in recent years.
How can you be involved?
We are always looking for players and field volunteers like pitchers, catchers and spotters. We also need other people for support including tasks like driving and for assisting our organization in local events and fund raisers. We would like you to be on our team. You can visit our Contact Us page to connect with us or also message us through Facebook.