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Renegades in the Community

Camp Vision visited the Renegades

Just before the 2016 World Series Camp Vision visited the Renegades for a clinic to learn about the sport.  While the team practiced about 20 kids with visual impairments from western Mass came to see what beepball and the Renegades were all about.  Coach Kara Peters joined former players, JJ Ward, Joe Buizon, Aqil Sajjad and Ben Rubenstein in a demonstration of the game.  We taught them a little about running bases, defense and hitting.  The kids also got a chance to see the team practice at full speed.  Its always exciting for our players to give back to the blind community.  Maybe some day, one of these kids becomes a Renegade or a player in our league.  Either way, they have had a chance to experience playing the sport and we hope this helps see what is possible

Kara and Ben teach a camper how to set up at the plate

Kara and Ben teach a camper how to set up at the plate

A camper shows no fear going after the base

A camper shows no fear going after the base

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JJ gives words of wisdom to a young camper before he hits

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Aqil demonstrates how we play defense to the campers

A camper fields a ball while Ben and JJ look on and provide feedback/encouragement

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A group shot of the Renegades (JJ Ward, Aqil Sajjad, Kara Peters, Ben Rubenstein and Joe Buizon) with Camp Vision campers and volunteers

Renegades go to Westfield to put on Beepball clinic- October 15

Thanh from the Renegades helps with a beepball Clinic in Hartford in June at Chapter 126

Thanh Teaches Aaron Vnuk and 2 potential volunteers skills needed on defense in June, 2016 at Chapter 126

The Renegades are trying to help a new team get started in the Western part of the state by putting on a Beepball clinic.  In June, the team travelled to Bristol, Connecticut to put on a demo for Chapter 126 with the hopes of helping them start a team.  On that day three players got the itch to play but more importantly, Chapter 126 was excited to help get a team started.  As the 2016 season was winding down, the team got a call from the Center for Human Development in Western, Mass (CHD).Logo for Chapter 126

CHD wanted the Renegades to come to the Springfield area to put on a clinic to help them grow the sport.  During the conversation we discussed a potential partnership with Chapter 126 due to the work we did in June.  CHD was excited by this idea and the Renegades helped tie these two organizations together since they had a similar mission.

Oc Saturday, October 15th from 12:00-2:00, the Renegades will travel to Westfield to put on a clinic. the event will take place at Stanley Park located at 400 Western Ave in Westfield, Mass.  The event is open to anyone who wants to attend.  If you want to attend, please send us an email at bostonrenegades@gmail.com and in that email provide a phone number so we can contact you if we need to go to a plan B for inclement weather (we have an indoor facility we can use if needed).  We have heard there are more than 15 players registered for this event with at least 7 volunteers interested in helping.  CHD and Chapter 126 have hopes of forming a competitive team in the future and this should be a step in the right direction.

 

Below is a write up from CHD:

Logo for CHDThis beep ball clinic will be for people of all ages who are interested in the game of baseball with a twist. Beep ball was created in 1976 and it has only gotten more popular as of late. In western MA there is about 15-20% of the population who are blind or have a visual impairment. With this being said CHD and Boston Renegades would be a great partnership because with direction and guidance we could make this a yearly clinic and go from there.

Skills that will be taught throughout the 2-hour clinic will be proper stretching techniques, basic rules on how to be a teammate and work together and also the basic rules and positions of beep ball. Fielding and finding a beep ball when hit is going to be a lot of the clinic cause that takes the most skill to get down pat. Also hitting a beep ball off the tee or underhand pitched will be practiced too. Each participant will get a blind fold of some sort to cover their eyes because the object is to participate completely blind and learn from the Professional Boston Renegades. The participants who come from CHD and the surrounding area will be able to look up to these professional beep ball players and set goals for themselves since they see how successful the Renegades athletes are.

 

September 11 – Come join us in Woburn for a game and a party

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The Woburn Lions pitch to their own team and we allow them to take their blindlofd off if they can’t hit it…but they must run with the blind fold on…which is normally pretty funny to watch

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Taking hacks with a blindfold on is not easy

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Its very rare for a Lion to make a play on defense…but it does happen..and they get better every year!

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Bryan Grillo is the Renegade who introduced us tot he Woburn Host Lions so its fitting he and the Lion are in this picture.

On Sunday, September 11th at 12:00 in Woburn, the Woburn Host Lions will be taking on the Renegades in a charity beep baseball game.  The game will take place at the Joyce Middle School located at 55 Locust Street in Woburn Mass.  The game will end at 1:30 and after this, the group will go to the Crowne Plaza Hotel located in Woburn at 15 Middlesex Canal Park Dr for a post party.  Come join the Renegades and the Lions for an afternoon of beep baseball and then grab some food afterwards at the Crowne Plaza and celebrate the Renegades amazing 2016 season.

The Woburn Host Lions have been working with the Renegades since the 2009 season.  Every year they run an event with the Renegades.  They have played us in numerous games.  They have sponsored an afternoon at the movies where we debuted our documentary on the screen (and our coach got engaged in front of the crowd as a surprise to all).   They have also hosted multiple games with out of town NBBA teams including the 2015 Beast of the East title tournament.  This year, they are looking to celebrate our success with us.  We invite all Renegade family and friends to join us for a fun game and to celebrate with the Renegades on their successful 2016 season!

Sullivan & Worcester to play the Renegades on July 13th

For the fourth year in a row the Sullivan & Worcester LLP softball team will take on the Renegades in an exhibition game.  The Renegade have owned these Lawyers on the field for the first three years of play.  Its a great opportunity for these Lawyers to try and play the sport of baseball without their vision and a good opportunity for the Renegades to get some work in.  We always have a great time playing this game as we often times let the lawyers play without their blind fold when they hit to make the game more exciting if they can’t hit it with the blind fold on.  Running with the blindfold and playing defense is always the challenge.

A short video from the event in 2013

Sullivan & Worcester is a prominent Boston-based full service law firm with offices in Boston, New York and Washington, DC.  For the law firm, this game is a team building exercise for the summer associate class teamed up with veteran lawyers and staff.    The night will start with a clinic and be followed by a game.  The night will begin at 6:30 PM with warm ups  and we hope to start the game around 7:15 at Filippello Field (The Arlington Street side) located at 110 Arlington Street in Watertown, Mass

The Renegades want to thank this firm for their continued support of the Renegades.  This Law firm is one of the biggest individual contributors to the Renegades fundraising efforts and we are grateful for their support!

The Renegades make a visit to Cooperstown to represent the league at the Baseball Hall of Fame

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The Renegades pose in the baseball learning center while supporting their film at the baseball hall of fame in 2013

Story by Rob Weissman

As I child, baseball was my life.  Our summers were full of wiffleball, t-ball, sandlot games in our dead end circle of our street, baseball cards, strat-o-Matic and so much more.  I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player more than anything.

That dream died pretty quickly as I got left off a summer travel team and then failed to make the baseball team at my high school after trying for three years.  In fairness, our high school had a huge athletic program and I could not make the cut. In college, I discovered my skills were higher than most I knew who did play for their high schools.  Maybe if I went to a smaller school that dream would have flickered longer.  After college,  I decided to try to tweak my dream and started to work for Major League Baseball in the Arizona fall league in 1993.  It was one of the most exciting jobs I ever had.

Let’s fast forward to the fall of 2013 and the Renegades documentary from Best Dog Ever films was selected to play at the Baseball Hall of Fame film festival.  It was a complete honor to be part of that festival.  As the movie played, it was just emotional to see my team and our work recognized at this level.  We then had the opportunity to field questions from the audience.  In a small way, it felt like we had achieved my dream of playing ball and making it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Through this trip, we made some contacts who were interested in doing more with the team.  It started with Larry Moore who was willing to give us a great experience after our movie and give the team an opportunity to learn more about the history of baseball equipment and uniforms….by holding the equipment.  Larry even came to the Boston area and put on another show for the team this past spring.  We loved being a part of baseball history and seeing how heavy the uniforms were.  We took pleasure in trying on these crazy gloves and holding the lumber from  old days when they did not use toothpicks to hit with.

We also met one of the museum curators, Tom Schieber.  Tom and I talked about how the Hall likes to tell a story through the equipment when they make a display.  I took his lessons and worked with the league to secure memorabilia from the last out of the World Series.  Kevin Barrett helped us secure the ball from the final out and John Lykowski jr helped us get a photo of the final out as well.

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Brandon Cheeser’s shirt, gloves, blindfold with the ball he stopped for the final out of the 2014 World Series

The three of us worked together to send this to Tom at the Hall of Fame and the Hall accepted the ball, photo, an NBBA patch and a program from the 2014 World Series.  All of these items are archived there.  In some small way, all of the players and volunteers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame archives through that program.  How cool is that to think about?

At that time, I started to work with Brandon Cheeser, who was the player from Austin who fielded the final out.  Brandon donated his uniform top, his blindfold and the gloves he wore when he made the out…and all of these items were also accepted into the hall of fame.

In the early part of the summer, we found out the items were on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It was an amazing feeling to see the league get recognized.  It was amazing to hear from Brandon about what it meant to him.  It was another baseball dream come true.

The story did not end there.  As we approached the 2015 World Series, we were invited to put on a program in the bullpen theater for the museum patrons to learn more about beep baseball.  With the help of Andrew Distler and Shirley Tyler we designed a program where we could show a clip of our documentary, talk about the rules of the game, what the game means to the athletes and demonstrate what the ball sounds like.   As we worked on that the Hall of Fame put together an article on the game. Gretyl Macalaster reached out to me and put together a very nice article that was published by the Hall of Fame in their newsletters.  That article can be read here: http://www.baseballhall.org/discover/short-stops/sounds-of-the-game

Once we got to the Hall of Fame we were taken right to the display to see what they were showing to the museum patrons to help educate people about our sport.  This was there busiest time of year – induction ceremonies!  While we looked at the display, we met up with Brandon who was so honored to have his name and equipment in the Hall of Fame.

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Rob dias, Rob Weissman, Christian Thaxton and Mike Marciello pose with the display about out great sport of beep baseball in the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Brandon Cheeser poses with his son as he was so proud to have his uniform an, blindfold and gloves in the hall of fame along with the ball he caught for the final out of the 2014 World Series

 

 

 

 

When Brandon found out about the display he wrote to me saying, “I had a coworker describe it to me and I told him as he was describing the photo to me that I was about to cry. This means a lot to me to be a part of a sport as great as this one to reach out to blind athletes and still let them follow the sport they love and try and live and reach the dreams that they had as a child.”

As we were entering the Hall that day, there was a program available at the front desk with the events the day..and we were on this program.  It was designed to help us promote a 30 minute talk we were going to do for the patrons of the Hall.

 

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Notice the Renegades are being promoted at the Hall of Fame – for the blind it reads – “1:00 Beep Ball Program (Bullpen Theater, 1st Floor) – Join us for a special presentation from the Beep Ball Players as they discuss this unique form of baseball played by those that are visually impaired”

 

When the crowd filled in to the bullpen theater we first showed a clip from our documentary and then Renegade Player, Guy Zuccarello, Coach Bryan Grillo and Austin Blackhawk, Brandon Cheeser talked about the game, the rules, how its played and what the game means to the players.  While we talked about the game we had a slide show of pictures showing many of the players and teams from around the league, courtesy of John Lykowski Jr.  Players in this video included: James Monza (Carolina), Frank Guerra (Iowa), Bill Landrum (Chicago), John Parker (Colorado), Doug Biggins (Colorado), Pat Lemke (Minnesota), Matthew Lassai (Wichita), Kilari Girtley (Chicago), Kevin Burton (Wichita), Graham Mathenia (Lonestar), Rich Koppenjan (NJ), Sherlock Washington (NJ), Jackson Schwoebel (Columbus), Frank Facio (Bayou City), Ron Jordan (Tyler), Axel Cox (Austin), Thanh Huynh & Ron Cochran (Boston), Lupe Perez (Austin), Jen Boylan (Southwest), Kevin Sibson (Austin), Marlon Stover (Carolina), Demitris Morrow (Colorado), Jason Walters (Bayou City), Tanner Gers (Bayou City),  Guy Zuccarello (Boston), Deshaun Widener (NJ), Adam Rodenbeck (RHI), Brandon Cheeser (Austin),  Joe McCormick (Boston), Jim Mastro (West Coast Dawgs), Evan Silver (Boston), Jason Gainey and Larry Reed (Tyler)

The goal of the video was to give the audience a feel of the athleticism of the game, the diversity of the players and the range of teams from around the country.  We wanted to make sure the Boston Renegades were representing the league…NOT just the Renegades.  Many thanks to John Lykowski Jr for providing this footage.  It was truly an honor to be part of this event and for the diehard baseball fans on our team, we felt like we were part of the Baseball Hall of Fame for the day.  When our talk was over the Baseball Hall of Fame released a second article about the game, its rules and more http://baseballhall.org/news/beep-baseball-a-hit-in-cooperstown

The Boston Renegades visit the Baseball hall of fame after the 2015 World Series

The Boston Renegades visit the Baseball hall of fame after the 2015 World Series

During this program, I must confess I was in tears.  I had tears for a few reasons.  First, I had found out that less than 24 hours prior to this event, my father had passed away losing a battle with Brain Cancer.  My family agreed with me that he would want me to be at the Hall as there was nothing I could do at home.  I had a heavy heart because my dad helped me grow my love of baseball by playing catch, playing baseball video games, teaching us about collecting baseball cards and taking us to Red Sox games including the 1986 World Series.  But some of these were tears of joy that maybe..just maybe my father was smiling down upon me and watching my team achieve a dream that many of us had.

Here is the full video of Bryan talking and most of what Guy had to say…but we ran out of space to record the whole thing and missed Brandon- sorry

 

This past fall, the annual exhibit showing the past years stories which housed Brandon’s equipment was taken down.  We got word a new exhibit about the game of baseball titled “Whole New Ballgame,” which focuses on baseball from 1970 to today has been created and our ball made that exhibit.  In that exhibit is the ball we used to make the final out and picture of the Austin Blackhawks celebrating their win.  The plaque reads “Since 1976, the visually impaired players of the National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) have relied on sound-emitting baseballs.  The beep ball was used in the 2014 NBBA World Series.”  We are right next to the Pope.  This is a very cool honor and this exhibit should be there for years to come.  A dream come true has started.  Maybe one day the Baseball Hall of fame would do an exhibit on disability and baseball.  Tell stories of stars like Jim Abbott, Jim Eisenreich, Pete Gray and show how engrained baseball is in the American culture that people with all sorts of disabilities compete in this sport.  Until then, we can’t wait to get back there to see the ball on display!

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picture of the ball which was used for the final out of the 2014 World Series that is currently on disply at the hall of fame in Cooperstown

Renegades take on the Woburn Host Lions on September 13th

On Sunday, September 13th, the Boston Renegades will take on the Woburn Host Lions in a fun exhibition game.  The event will begin at 12:15 and will be played at the Joyce Middle School, located at 55 Locust Street in Woburn.  The Woburn Lions have been one of the Renegades biggest supporters over the years as we have played many games against them.  They also helped host our movie event in Woburn last June and they hosted a double header in Woburn against the Long Island Bombers in 2012.  This past July, they helped us put on an amazing tournament on two fields.  Not only did they organize the whole thing, but they also raised money for all of the teams that attended.  This year, the Lions are excited because they have Renegade, Dino Vasile as part of their club.  They have hopes that Dino can teach them enough about the game to give the Renegade a run for their money…and since Dino did not attend a single practice this year, he will be suiting up as a Lion in this match.

The Woburn Lions pose for a picture before the games begin A swing and a miss.  On these games, we have the Lions pitch to themselves…and when they can't hit, we let them try hitting without their blindfolds Its not easy throwing to a bunch of sighted guys :)

 

Come on down to this event and see some of your favorite Renegades take on the Lions.  Its sure to be a fun time, with some trash talk, and laughs. If you are interested in potentially playing or volunteering for the Renegades in the future this is a perfect time to come, see the game played, meet the team and even give the game a try.  Please email us at bostonrenegades@gmail.com if you have any questions.  All of our fans are invited to this fun event….just bring a chair or blanket to sit on and remember to hold your applause till after the play is over.  Come hear the passion of Renegade Beep baseball!

Sullivan & Worcester to play the Renegades on July 15th

For the third year in a row the Sullivan & Worcester LLP softball team will take on the Renegades in an exhibition game.  The Renegade have owned these Lawyers on the field for the first two years of play.  Its a great opportunity for these Lawyers to try and play the sport of baseball without their vision and a good opportunity for the Renegades to get some work in.  We walkways have a great time playing this game as we often times let the lawyers play without their blind fold when they hit to make the game more exciting if they can’t hit it with the blind fold on.  Running with the blindfold and playing defense is always the challenge.

A short video from the event in 2013

 

Sullivan & Worcester is a prominent Boston-based full service law firm with offices in Boston, New York and Washington, DC.  For the law firm, this game is a team building exercise for the summer associate class teamed up with veteran lawyers and staff.    The night will start with a clinic and be followed by a game.  The night  will begin at 6:30 PM and we hope to start the game around 7:15 at Moxley Field located at 31 Westminster Ave, Watertown, MA

The Renegades want to thank this firm for their continued support of the Renegades.  This Law firm is one of the biggest individual contributors to the Renegades fundraising efforts and we are grateful for their support!

The Renegades Speak at SABR

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The Society of American Baseball Research is an organization made up of baseball statisticians and baseball historians.  Many have heard of this organization through a team called SABR Metrics.  Bill James ( who is now employed by the Red Sox) helped make this group famous.

This year the current president of the Boston chapter, Joanne Hulbert reached out to us and asked if we would like to get involved and we jumped at the opportunity. They set us up as a speaker for their fall meeting in downtown Boston.  Their previous meeting had speakers such as Tommy Harper, Peter Gammons and Sox Skipper John Farrell speaking.  We were asked to follow that act…something that can’t be accomplished…but we accepted the opportunity and was given an hour time slot.

We started the talk off with showing our movie trailer to the audience to give them a feel for the sport.  a few “oos’ and “ahs” came from the crowd.  Coach Rob made them laugh when he  followed the clip saying, “I’m not that mean”.  Joey Buizon took the stage next and talked about his story and talked about our ball, the base and the blindfold.  Joe McCormick then took center stage to discuss his story and the basic rules of the game. Next up was Justin Manjourides who discussed defense…the side of the game that wins championships.  He chatted about how we coach it, the role of the spotters.  Justin was in his element as a statistician himself and he brought with him a few of our charts to explain things to the crowd.  Lastly, Rob presented hitting to the crowd and talked about how the offense works and the roles of the pitcher and catcher.  We had a very long Q&A afterwards and the crowd was clearly very interested and engaging.

We had hopes that some of the SABR members would be interested in getting involved.  Many of them purchased a copy of our film and signed up for our news letter.  To date we have signed one new volunteer from this meeting.  Her name is Yuki Ara.  Yuki is from Japan and a huge baseball fan who resides in Brookline.  Yuki is very excited to take part in our program.  She was a doctor in Japan and is willing to join our medical team.  We also plan to have her work with Lisa Andrews to help the team with the stretching to help minimize injuries.  Yuki is also eager and willing to work on some off the field projects as well.

Joanne has approached us with a bunch of ideas recently and we hope to cultivate this relationship more in the near future.  The SABR members are very well connected to the Boston baseball community.  We think with their involvement some doors could be opened for us with the Red Sox, NESN and maybe more.  The exposure they could help us with could help us draw more coaches, more players and hopefully some sponsors along the way.

We are excited about the opportunity SABR is giving us.  Many of the renegades are true baseball fans and this relationship could benefit both parties well.  SABR day is January 24, 2105 and we hope to have more plans for the future.  SABR is always looking for new members.  If you are interested in joining check out their membership page here.  Or you can just attend the local Boston events and give a $10 donation when you come.

 

Wrong Way shows the crowd the blindfold we use to play the sport

Joe Mac discusses his story and the basic rules of the game

Justin shows the crowd our defensive strategies and the role of the spotter

Rob talks about hitting and how we teach it and the role of the pitcher/Catcher in beep baseball

The Renegades at center stage taking questions

 

Renegades take the field with the Spinners

On Sunday, July 27th, the Renegades teamed with National Braille Press to celebrate Braille Literacy Night at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass.  Before the game, the Renegades put on an exhibition of the sport in the outfield.  Our players say it was some of the fastest grass they have ever played on.  Our very own Joe McCormick threw out the first pitch of the game and the Spinners showed some clips of our documentary on the jumbotron.  We have many of the photos from the event and a video of the first pitch on our facbook page.  Follow the links below to take you to our Facebook page

To view pictures from the event

To view the video of Joe throwing out the first pitch

 

team photo at the spinners game

front row from right to left: Thanh Huynh, Rob Dias, Guy Zuccarello, Seth Cutler. Back Row Brian Cutler, Rob Thayer, Joe McCormick, Jamie Dickerson, Joe Quintanilla, Dan Cotter. Photo credit John Corneau/LowellSpinners

 

 

Renegades take on the Woburn Host Lions on September 14th

On Sunday, September 14th, the Boston Renegades will take on the Woburn Host Lions in a fun exhibition game.  The event will begin at 12:15 and will be played at the Joyce Middle School, located at 55 Locust Street in Woburn.  The Woburn Lions have been one of the Renegades biggest supporters over the years as we have played many games against them.  They also helped host our movie event in Woburn last June and they hosted a double header in Woburn against the Long Island Bombers in 2012.  We have hopes that may help us host a tournament in 2015 as well.

The Woburn Lions pose for a picture before the games begin A swing and a miss.  On these games, we have the Lions pitch to themselves…and when they can't hit, we let them try hitting without their blindfolds Its not easy throwing to a bunch of sighted guys :)

 

Come on down to this event and see some of your favorite Renegades take on the Lions.  Its sure to be a fun time, with some trash talk, and laughs. If you are interested in potentially playing or volunteering for the Renegades in the future this is a perfect time to come, see the game played, meet the team and even give the game a try.  Please email us at bostonrenegades@gmail.com if you have any questions.  All of our fans are invited to this fun event….just bring a chair or blanket to sit on and remember to hold your applause till after the play is over.  Come hear the passion of Renegade Beep baseball!