Long Island hosts blind baseball tourney

The ball beeped, the bases buzzed and the fans didn't cheer in this version of the national pastime. Four teams of blind baseball players turned out Saturday for a round-robin tournament on Long Island.

"This reminds me of when I could see and played in Little League," said Ted Fass, founder of the host Long Island Bombers.

The home team was joined by the Pennsylvania Wolfpack, the Chicago Comets and the Boston Renegades at Hofstra University the first beeper ball tournament held in New York state, according to its organizers.

The crowd keeps quiet because applause and shouting would prevent the players from hearing the beeping baseball or running toward the buzzing bases. At the plate, the batter listens for the pitch and takes his cuts.

The bases are different, too. They're soft pylons 100 feet from home plate at first and third. The hitter has the option of running to either one. If the batter reaches the base before a fielder can grab a hit ball, a run is scored. Otherwise, the batter is out.

The Bombers started play with an 8-6 victory over Chicago.

Fass, a 55-year-old Rockville Centre resident, lost his sight to a tumor that affected his optic nerve when he was 11. Nine years ago, he launched the Bombers, an 11-member team that competes against squads from around the country. All the players are blind or visually impaired.