About 40 years ago, beep baseball, baseball for the blind and visually impaired, was established in the U.S., and in 2018, the first book written about beep baseball was published by David Wanczyk.
Wanczyk, an assistant professor of English at Ohio University, will speak at Authors @ Alden on Oct. 24 from 5:30-7 p.m. about his book “Beep: Inside the Unseen World of Baseball for the Blind.” The event will be held on the fourth floor of Alden Library and is free and open to the public.
For five years Wanczyk, who graduated from Ohio University’s Ph.D. creative writing program in 2010, traveled the country, and to the Dominican Republic and Taiwan, to interview beep baseball players for his book and witness the action of the game. The book focuses on the gameplay of beep baseball, along with profiles of the players, over the course of a championship game.
“I was drawn to this sport because I had actually never heard of it before; blind people playing baseball was pretty fascinating,” said Wanczyk. “I was able to find the love of baseball again in a different way through the game, while at the same time writing profiles of these incredible visually impaired and blind baseball players.”
During a game of beep baseball, a pitcher and a hitter are on the same team and they work together using timing cues for the hitter to hit the ball into the outfield where the opposing team has six players, all blindfolded. The ball beeps for the players to find it, and if it is fielded before the hitter makes it to the buzzing base, it is considered an out; if the hitter beats them to the base that is considered a run. While the book goes into the rules of the game, Wanczyk says he wanted to discuss if the players’ off-field struggles transferred to the field and their gameplay.
“What I’m really interested in is watching how the personal lives of the guys are in some ways indistinguishable from their gameplay,” he said. “I hoped to transcend a kind of cliché about inspiration that I think people feel about the stories of disabled people, and that is certainly there and they are inspiring people; but they’re more than that.”
At Authors @ Alden, Wanczyk will be speaking with J.W. Smith, Ph.D., an associate professor of communication studies, who was born blind and has written books about his experience and actively works to expand the term diversity to create an environment of openness and understanding.
“I’m very thrilled to be talking with J.W. Smith … he was an early person I spoke to in 2013 about the game because he had played it back in the 70s and 80s,” said Wanczyk. “So, the idea that [OHIO] gives us the chance to come together and talk with our different perspectives about beep baseball and about baseball itself, and about perspective itself, I think is a great opportunity.”
Wanczyk says participating in Authors @ Alden is personal to him because he says he made a major discovery finding a book about blindness and the history of beep baseball while on Alden Library’s first floor, and he received a lot of support from the Libraries’ staff while he was writing the book. Additionally, he says it’s a good chance for people to learn what their colleagues are working on and their specialized interests.
“So many of [our colleagues] are doing so many interesting things that intersect and something like Authors @ Alden gives us the chance to really highlight those intersections,” he said.
Authors @ Alden with David Wanczyk will be held on Oct. 24 from 5:30-7 p.m. on the Alden Library fourth floor. The event is free and open to the public.
To request accessibility accommodations for this event, please contact Jen Harvey.