This Is How We Do It!

Sunday, in a grass field near the Coborns Grocery store in Glencoe, around 90 people saw the only beep baseball game in Minnesota this year. The event raised around $200 for the Millers, but more importantly, it gave people a chance to see what an amazing sport beep baseball is. It almost didn’t happen though.

 

In 2013, we met Gary Koch, the Lion who has organized this event for the past three years. Within minutes, Gary fell in love with the idea of beep baseball and offered to arrange a game between the Millers and a team of community players as a part of the Glencoe Days annual festival. The event was such a big success that we were invited back in 2014 to do it again. Thanks to heavy rains, the 2014 event was delayed a month, and was then cut short by more heavy rains that started almost immediately after we’d completed the game. Still, the turnout was fantastic and we were looking forward to doing it again in 2015. Unfortunately, thanks to some internal politics, the Glencoe Lions decided to withdraw their support for the event about a month before it was supposed to take place.

 

Gary was undaunted, though, and approached supportive individuals from Glencoe and other nearby Lions clubs, and two weeks later, the event was back on. The turnout was still fantastic, and so was the weather. The Millers beat Glencoe 17-2, but everybody we talked to said they had fun and learned something new about how a sport designed primarily for blind people can be just as challenging, and exciting to watch, as one designed for people with normal vision.

 

The Millers would like to thank Gary, his wife Emmy, and the rest of the crew for sharing a wonderful day with us, and for sharing beep baseball with a small part of Minnesota. Gary is already talking about holding two events next year, and has offered to work with other Lions clubs that would like to hold more. This helps us to fulfill our primary mission, which is to provide blind and visually impaired people throughout Minnesota the opportunity to become more physically fit through competitive sports, and to educate people throughout the state about what it’s like to be blind. If you’re a Lion, or know one, please talk to your club about helping the Millers hold a fund raising and publicity event in your area, and use the links on this page to contact us for ideas.

 

P.s. Events like this can help the Millers, but they can also do so much more. For example:

  • Why not help clean up a local park in exchange for using it as a venue?
  • In addition to collecting donations for the Millers, how about collecting nonperishable food for a local food shelf, or used eyeglasses for recycling?.
  • What goes together with a baseball game better than food? Why not hold a bake sale and split the proceeds with a local charity? Baked goods might sell faster if they can be eaten conveniently while watching the game.
  • Get youth involved. It’s a great volunteer opportunity that they’ll never forget.
  • Finally, use the event to promote your club and to invite new people to become Lions. The largest service club in the world won’t stay that way without new blood once in a while.

Beep Ball in Sioux Falls?

We ran across this piece about beep baseball today. If beep ball is indeed still played in Sioux Falls, we’d very much like to know about it. In fact, we’d like to encourage any active players in Sioux Falls to form a team and challenge us to a few games. Since the Iowa Reapers have bailed out on us for the last two years, maybe we’ll have better luck next year with a brand new Sioux Falls team. What about it Sioux Falls?

A Rare Opportunity

People often ask us where they can see a beep baseball game. The opportunities for this are rare because we’re the only competitive beep baseball team in the state. Fortunately, though, thanks to a very committed fan in Glencoe, we’ll be playing our only game in Minnesota there next week.

 

Since 2013, Lion Gary Koch has organized a team of players from throughout the Glencoe community to compete against us. Since none of the players are blind, or have any prior experience with beep baseball, we modify the rules a bit to give them a chance, but the competition is real. Following the game, we offer children and adults the opportunity to try hitting a pitched ball and running to a base blindfolded. This year we’ll also be selling our own merchandise, including wrist bands, temporary tattoos, and some t-shirts. Food will also be available through Coborn’s Grocery.

 

This event has been a big hit in the past, with people calling it an “eye opening experience”.

 

When: Sunday, June 28th, 2015, 12:00 PM.

Where: the former Allen Field, just west of Coborn’s Grocery, 2211 11th St. E., Glencoe MN, 55336.

 

Don’t miss this opportunity to cheer on the Minnesota Millers during their only appearance in Minnesota this year.

 

P.s. This event has been so popular that we’d really like to hold something like it in the metro area. If you’d be interested in helping us put that together, please contact us through the links on this page.

Some Facts about Rochester, New York

In 2014, the World Series of Beep Baseball was held in Rochester, Minnesota, giving many of our family, friends, and fans, a rare opportunity to watch the Millers play. The opportunity is rare because, most of the time, the Millers don’t get the chance to play in Minnesota because we’re the only team in the state.

 

Rochester has played host to a World Series of Beep Baseball three times, in 2007, 2010, and 2014. It was because of the 2010 World Series that the Minnesota Fighting Lions, our parent organization, decided to branch out of recreational beep baseball and form a competitive team. The Fighting Lions changed their name to the Millers in 2012, adopting the University of Minnesota Gophers maroon and gold color scheme. The Fighting Lions still play recreational beep ball, though, every Saturday from late April through mid September, giving people the opportunity to play beep ball in a more casual setting.

 

This year, the World Series of Beep Baseball will be held in Rochester, New York, a city known for its minor league baseball team, the Rochester Red Wings, it’s world renowned universities, The University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology, and as the birthplace of Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox.

 

The Rochester Red Wings are the oldest continuously operating minor league baseball team in the United States. Founded in 1899, they’re a farm team for our own Minnesota Twins. They’ve won the Governors’ Cup, the championship of the International League, 10 times since 1933, setting a league record. Rochester was named “Baseball City, USA” by Baseball America in 1998.

 

The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has been the home of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf since 1966. In 1990, RIT started its first PH.D. program in imaging science. It now has 7 PH.D. programs, and became the first university to offer a Software Engineering degree at the undergraduate level in 1996.

 

The tallest building in Rochester is the Xerox Tower, clocking in at 443 feet. Other points of interest include the George Eastman House, the world’s oldest photography museum, Frontier Field, and the Strong National Museum of Play, housing the National Toy Hall of Fame.

 

It costs around $500 to fly from Minneapolis to Rochester. Busses and trains are also options, but they don’t cost much less and the 1009 mile trip takes nearly two full days. $7,500 of this year’s budget will be used to transport our 15-person team by air.

 

Rooms at the host hotel, the Radisson Riverside, cost $89 per night, plus 14 percent tax, for a total of 101.46 per night. We usually share our rooms, meaning that our hotel costs will only be around $5600. That’s 72 percent of this year’s budget. The rest is spent on food, equipment, ground transportation while we’re there, and tournament registration fees. According to our statistics, around 1800 people have read our posts over the last week. If each one of you donated $10, we’d easily be able to achieve that goal. Fortunately, many of you have donated much more. For that, we thank you. If you haven’t donated yet, there is still time. Donations are tax deductable, quick and easy. Simply click one of the donate links on this page. When you’re finished with that, share or like this post on facebook, twitter, or any other social network you’re a part of and again, thank you to all of our family, friends, and fans for your support.

Happy Fathers’ Day

Many of us are spending time with our fathers today. If we’re too far away, we’re calling, sending cards, or simply sending “happy Fathers’ Day” messages on Facebook. Several of the Minnesota Millers are fathers, and we want to wish all of them happy fathers day today. We also wanted to tell you about one very special father-son combo.

 

Coach Doug Van Duyne’s son Evan has been a Miller from the beginning. “My dad has been the biggest motivator for me to do well”, Evan said during a 2014 television interview.

 

The rest of us feel the same way. As we described in our post yesterday, Doug is one of the biggest motivators for us all to do well. Not only because of his excellent coaching, but because he treats all of us as if we were his own sons and daughters. He praises us when we do well, and makes sure we know why when we didn’t. He pushes us to do better each year. Through his coaching and through the example he sets for all of us.

 

Doug puts in an enormous amount of time off the field as well. He attends every Minnesota Fighting Lions board meeting, even though he no longer officially serves on the board. When the Millers aren’t practicing, Doug often spends his Saturdays with the Minnesota Fighting Lions recreational program, coaching less experienced players and scouting for new talent.

 

Please join us in wishing Doug, and all the fathers out there, a happy Fathers’ Day.

 

This post wouldn’t be complete without a reminder to help us achieve our $18,000 fund raising goal for 2015. We’re over half way there, but we still have a long way to go. Donating is quick, easy, and tax deductable through the donate links on www.mnmillers.org. Thank you to all of you who have donated so far. You’re helping maintain the tradition of beep baseball in Minnesota and we all appreciate your support.

A Big Thank You to our Volunteers

A great deal of the coverage given to beep baseball focuses primarily on the blind players, but without our volunteer coaches, pitchers, catchers, and spotters, what we do wouldn’t be possible. For example, thanks to the dedication of two of our volunteers, coach Doug Van Duyne and catcher Kelly Peterson, we were able to turn a canceled event into a successful practice today.

Many people don’t realize that a blind person’s life usually has to be planned further in advance, at least when it comes to arranging transportation. Busses run on schedules, and don’t always go where we need them too. Para transit systems usually require at least a day of advanced notice when scheduling rides. Taxis are, for some, prohibitively expensive. This means that, for a beep baseball team, it can be difficult to arrange last-minute practices or pickup games. Today, though, Doug and Kelly transported four of our six twin cities players so we could do exactly that.

When we arrived at the park, Coach Doug and the players assisted each other in batting practice using a hit stick, a tool for improving swing consistency. This is particularly important in beep ball, where the pitcher and batter must consistently be able to meet each other in a strike zone about four inches wide.

After that, Doug batted, or threw, ball after ball out into the field so we could work on our defense. In beep ball, reaching a hit ball as soon as possible is essential to preventing the offensive team from scoring runs. A good hitter can easily propel the ball over 100 feet before it drops to the ground and can be fielded. Catching a ball in the air is so rare that the defensive team is automatically awarded three outs if they do it.

Many of the most powerful hitters are also fast runners and can reach a base, 100 feet from home plate, in around four seconds. All of this gives the defensive team very little margin for error, so practice is essential.

All of our players would like to thank Doug, Kelly, and all of our volunteers for their dedication. We’d also like to remind our fans that our volunteers don’t just donate their time, they often donate their money as well. Gas, to transport players and themselves, is just one expense volunteers have. Traveling to out-of-state tournaments, like the World Series, is as expensive for a volunteer as it is for a player. This is all tax deductable, but volunteers come from all walks of life and cost presents a problem for some more than others. Two of our newest volunteers, for example, are full time college students. Your donations insure that we can retain the volunteers we need to make beep baseball possible in Minnesota. Please visit www.mnmillers.org and use the donate button or mailing address provided there to help us achieve our $18,000 fund raising goal for 2015. We understand that this isn’t possible for everyone, but it is possible for everyone to spread the word. Please like or share this post so that more of Minnesota can enjoy the amazing sport of beep baseball.

It’s a Minnesota Invention

If you were blind 50 years ago, you couldn’t play baseball, but you probably wanted to. After all, many of your sighted friends and family members were doing it, and you may have even sat in the stands cheering them on, dreaming that one day you too might be able to play. Then, everything changed.

 

In 1964, Charley Fairbanks, an engineer with Mountain Bell Telephone, invented a beeping baseball. The Telephone Pioneers, a nation-wide service organization of telephone company employees, developed a set of whistling bases and rules for an adapted version of the game, but it wasn’t until 1975 that baseball for the blind really took off, thanks to the Minnesota Telephone Pioneers and several motivated players from Minnesota. They beefed up the beep baseball, rewrote the rulebook, and held the first world series of beep baseball in St. Paul. In many ways, beep baseball was invented in Minnesota.

 

Still, many blind people are barred from playing beep baseball because the equipment is rare and expensive, and games are few and far between. Some states have more than one team, but most have only one. Some more well-to-do teams hold weekend tournaments to bring teams together, but the ultimate goal of any beep baseball team is to attend the beep baseball world series, a double elimination tournament where teams from around the world compete to be crowned the world champion of beep baseball.

 

The mission of the Minnesota Millers is to give the gift of beep baseball to the state of Minnesota. When we’re not playing, we’re practicing. When we’re not practicing, we’re recruiting new players and volunteers so that more Minnesotans can enjoy the game. In our spare time, we raise funds so we can play more, practice more, and recruit more.

 

Beep baseball isn’t just for people who are blind, though. Everyone connected with it comes away with something special.

 

Volunteers are quickly hooked. Many volunteers have been involved since the sport’s inception. They say that they make life-long friendships, they love the game, and they see the difference they make in peoples’ lives.

 

Fans say that watching beep baseball is as exciting as any other sport. Many people come away from their first game with a new appreciation for what blindness is all about. One fan says she enjoys seeing the players supporting each other as much as she enjoys the game itself.

 

Players come to beep baseball for many reasons. Some played baseball before they lost their sight and want to continue. Others always dreamed of playing competitive sports, but were barred from it because of their blindness. Others become hooked on beep baseball after being introduced to it by a friend, family member, or teacher.

 

Your tax deductable donations make all of this possible:

  • $5 buys one blindfold. (Because some players still have some vision, all players must wear blindfolds to make it fair.)
  • $25 buys one day of meals at the beep baseball world series. (Proper nutrition keeps us going through two or three games in one day.)
  • $30 buys one player’s jersey. (uniforms are a National Beep Baseball Association requirement.)
  • $35 buys one beeping baseball. (The beeper doesn’t last long when it’s hit again and again with a heavy bat.)
  • $350 buys a set of buzzing bases. (Bases are like tackling dummies with a loud buzzer in them.)
  • $500 buys one player meals and a hotel room at the beep baseball world series. (Hotels usually cost about $90 per night.)
  • $1000 covers a player’s entire trip to the World Series. (Airline tickets are around $500 each, and charter busses aren’t much cheaper.)

 

Please give to the Minnesota Millers, so we can keep giving the gift of beep baseball to Minnesota:

  • Donate online: mnmillers.org (use the “donate” button on the left side of the page.)
  • Donate by mail: 7023 Amundson Ave., Edina, MN. 55439 (make checks payable to The Minnesota Fighting Lions)

 

Trouble Donating?

A couple of people have written to us because they’ve had trouble finding the donate link on www.mnmillers.org. That’s probably what you get for having a blind person administer your web site, but we hope we just made it easier to find. Please let us know.

It’s For the Children

Each year the Millers attracts new players, many of whom are high school or college students we find through the Summer Transition Program (STP). Weather permitting, we’ll be giving this year’s STP students a chance to try beep baseball this Saturday. For most of them, this will be a brand new experience that could open up opportunities for a lifetime. Like any student, high costs are a barrier that is difficult to overcome. Your donations will help young beep ball players to attend tournaments like the World Series. Your help spreading the word will help us to bring in more donations and more players. Please use the “donate” button on www.mnmillers.org to help these players out. Also, please share this post or invite your friends to like our page. And, of course, new players are always welcome. If you know anyone who might be interested in playing beep baseball, please refer them to us.

Still A Long Way

Thank you to those who donated, or shared our post, yesterday in response to our call to action. We’ve made some progress, but we still have a long way to go. If you haven’t already, please help to spread the word and, if you can, send us a donation using the “donate” button on www.mnmillers.org.

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