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Baseball Hall of fame

Cooperstown has come Calling for Christian Thaxton!

Cooperstown has come calling for Christian Thaxton.  Why?  He broke the league record for batting average at the World Series going 26-29 and an .897 batting average in Florida during July of 2017 (see this article for a true breakdown on that accomplishment).  His name is now going to be part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown forever!

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Thaxton awaiting a pitch – this picture was submitted to the Baseball hall of fame. Photo by Lisa Andrews

Baseball was in his blood

Christian has had baseball in his blood for most of his life.  He lived and breathed baseball growing up in Duncan, Oklahoma.  He eventually went on to play Junior College baseball.  Sadly, baseball is where he noticed his sight was deteriorating.  His favorite pitch to hit used to be the inside fastball.  As his sight was declining, he was losing this pitch on the way to home plate.  Eventually, his baseball career would come to an end as he battled through LHON (Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy).

Many hitters who love the fastball often see them self in the dirt if the opposing pitcher wants to establish the inside part of the plate.  Any good hitter must get off the ground, dust themself off and get back in the box.   Christian found himself in the dumps when he was told of his vision loss.  However, he picked himself up quickly and dusted himself off and came to Boston to prepare himself for his new life.  Baseball was not on his mind at this point, for possibly the first time in his life.  Then magic happened.

Thax discovers Beep baseball

At an event at the Carroll Center for the Blind, Christian met two Renegades in Joe Quintanilla and Kara Peters. There he learned of beep baseball and the Association of Blind Citizen’s Boston Renegades.  In less than a few weeks, he was taking his hacks at a try-out off coach, Rob Weissman.  He just loved the feel of making contact again.  He was All-in and he was soon a Boston Renegade.

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Thaxton having some fun as he get’s into the box against the Indy Edge. Photo was submitted to Cooperstown. Photo by Lisa Andrews

Thaxton had some adjustments to make as he joined the team late in the spring part of the 2015 season.  He made a trip with the team to New Jersey where he played in his first ever beep baseball tournament.  He got off to a slow start there going just 3-10.  The talent was there. The desire was there. The work ethic was there.  Adjustments just needed to be made and he needed to learn the game of beep baseball.  Things improved as he went 5-11 a few weeks later at home in Woburn.  Then he busted on to the scene at the World Series and in his first year finished 4th in the league in hitting at the Series with a .719 batting average.

In 2016, Thaxton picked up where he left off and he had a chance to play defense for the first time.  This time he was 19-25 in Beast of the East action helping his team win the title for the 6th year in a row while he played on both sides of the ball.  It got better as his clutch hitting and leadership helped the Renegades get to the championship game in 2016 where he hit .651 at the Series, finishing 4th again in the league.

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Thaxton rips a pitch foul. Photo was submitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Photo by Lisa Andrews

In the 2016 off season, as we always do on the Renegades, we talked about what the players can do better.  There is nothing we can teach Christian about his swing.  He knows more about swinging then all of the Renegades combined.  We did talk about his mental approach and how to tweak that.  The result?  He went off in 2017.  At one point in the season when things clicked, he scored in 20 consecutive plate appearances including going a perfect 10-10 in front of the hometown fans in Woburn.   At the World Series, he continued to make a name for himself in the league.  He was scorching hot and went 26-29.  Many of these runs came against some of the top defensive teams in the league such as Austin, Colorado, Indy Thunder and the Indy Edge.

It’s official, we had a new record

The league does not have an official database of statistics.  So after a few weeks of the World Series, Coach Rob did some research, made some calls and found out Thaxton had broken a record which had stood since 1996 by John Parker of the Kansas All-stars.  John Parker was kind enough to confirm he had held the record and even sent Christian a gift passing on the baton and a record that stood since Christian was about three years old.

Christian Thaxton at the plate

Christian makes contact on one of his 26 run scoring hits of the 2017 World Series. Photo by Lisa Andrews

Once this was determined, Cooperstown was called and alerted of the feat.  They were very excited to accept Memorabilia from Thaxton and the Renegades to tell the story of this accomplishment.  To prove he had the record, all the scoresheets were collected.  They also wanted his bat and a photo of him using the bat.  Coach, Lisa Andrews scoured through her photos and found a great shot of him with the bat being used during the last game of the World Series (in fact, all of the photos on this page with him hitting were submitted to the Hall).

The Bat has it’s own story

The funny thing about the bat was it was damaged.  We had actually had discussions with Easton about sending it back to them for a review.  This bat was used for less than one season and had bent.  We found the bend in our last game of the year against the Indy Edge.  the bat was warped and the cause was likely a combination of Christians bat speed against the one pound beep ball.  For Safety reasons, the bat was thrown out of the last game.  Easton did not want the bat…but Cooperstown did.

Rob donates a bat used by Christian Thaxton to Shirley Tyler of the National Baseball Hall of Fame to represent his record batting average at the World Series

At the Annual Baseball Hall of Fame Film festival, Coach Rob delivered the bat in person to the hall of fame and gave it to them.  It will forever reside in their archives.  Both Coach Rob and Christian received certificates for donating the bat, scoresheets and photo.  They also received lifetime passes to go to the baseball hall of fame.

An honor for Every Renegade

Not only is this an honor for Christian but there is great pride in this accomplishment from his team.  Pitcher, Ron Cochran and Catcher, Rob Weissman were with Christian for every pitch of the World Series. Ron had to lob in the pitch perfectly each time.  Weissman was responsible for being consistent with his target.  So many of the hitting coaches helped prepare him for the series by helping him take his hacks. Many of his teammates were just so excited for him and this accomplishment.  They were excited to have their names on the scorecards enter Cooperstown.  It goes beyond that though.  Thaxton helps many of the players on the team as he acts as a hitting coach providing feedback and drills for his teammates.  His “students” were proud of their “teacher”.

Certificate from the National Baseball Hall of fame with the lifetime passes for Christian and Coach Rob

A true success story

Thaxton went from a low of being told he would never play baseball again and that he was legally blind.  He picked himself up off the dirt, dusted him self off after being knocked down.  He got up, moved to Boston, started a new life and found the Boston Renegades.  Not only is his bat in the National Baseball Hall of fame, it’s a feat he would likely never have made if he did not have vision loss.  Thaxton is a model for how to handle adversity and concur it.  He is a Hall of Famer in so many ways!


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


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.


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:

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.


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


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

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!


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