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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

Renegade Movie Airing on June 8th in Woburn!

Renegade Movie poster

On Saturday, June 8th at 10:00 am at the Woburn Showcase cinema, we are  showing our award winning documentary, The Renegades: A Beep Ball Story created by Best Dog Ever Films.  We are inviting all friends, family and fans to come check out this amazing film.  The event will include a showing of the film, a lunch hosted by the Woburn Lions, a question and answer period with the Renegades and drawings for prizes.  You can purchase your tickets here.  All of the proceeds to this event will go to help the Renegades travel to the World Series!

This event is being sponsored by the Association of Blind Citizens and the Woburn Host Lions!

If you have not seen the trailer to the film here it is:

Renegades In the Boston Globe!

Joe Quintanilla takes a cut off the hit stick indoors in Brighton

On April 21, the Renegades appeared in the Boston Globe North Section.  The focus of the article is on the Feature film of the Boston Renegades created by Best Ever Dog Films.  Its been years since we appeared in this paper and we are excited about the press.  Joe Quintanilla is the main subject of this story.  We call him “Q” and you can read a little about what the game and sport means to him as a visually impaired athlete.   Please read the article here

 

Renegade Documentary coming to Buffalo!

The Film Festival Laurel for the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival

We are coming to Buffalo and Niagara Falls!

We are excited to say that our Documentary, The Boston Renegades: A Beep Ball Story has been accepted to its second film festival and will be airing on Saturday April 13 at the Market Arcade Film & Arts Center in Buffalo, New York at 3:00 PM.  You can buy tickets at this link http://thebnff.com/films/the-renegades-a-beep-ball-story/

 

We encourage all of our fans in the Buffalo are or surrounding cities to please come and join us for this event.  The film makers will be present and we are excited to be a part of our 2nd film festival.  With your support, we may even be able to pick up an award as we did at the SNOB Film Festival in November

To view the movie trailer, here is a link to the web site of Best Ever Dog Films where information about the film resides.

 

 

 

The Renegades Hit the Big Screen!

Best Dog Ever Films’ award winning documentary comes to Boston for its premier of “The Renegades: A Beepball Story”

Poster advertising the Boston Premier of "The Renegades: A Beepball Story", Thursday, April 11, 2013 at the Revere Hotel Boston Common

Hope you will be able to join us for this special evening and celebrate the abilities of blind people, volunteerism and baseball!  Reserve your seat today by calling Jennifer Stewart at 617-266-6160 x 436, or emailing her at jstewart@nbp.org.

For directions and parking visit: The Revere Hotel Boston Common

On site parking is $14 for 2 hours, $18 for 3 hours, and $22 for 3 – 12 hours.  Valet parking is also available.

To see a trailer of the documentary, visit Best Dog Ever Films

World Premiere of a Documentary on the Renegades is November 10th at the SNOB Film Festival

image of "The Renegades: A Beep Ball Story" Documentary's posterOn Saturday, November 10th, a feature length documentary about the Boston Renegades called “The Renegades: A Beep Ball Story” will be having its World Premiere at the SNOB Film Festival in Concord, New Hampshire. The show is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm. You can get information about the event on their web site or purchase tickets here.

There will be future showings of this movie in the Boston area and we hope to have those dates to you by mid November if possible.

This movie is produced by Best Ever Dog Films and the father/daughter tandem of Jack Clancy and Liz Clancy Lerner. The film follows the Renegades primarily for the 2005 season but catches looks in at us as we grow over the following few years. It follows the Renegades as we play tournaments throughout the US culminating with a World Series in Houston. Each player has a story to tell about their blindness. Can a particular player make the team? Will another player finally score his first run in 7 years? Can a female player compete? Can Boston finally beat New York after years of futility? Will the Renegades win the World Series? Are they playing to win or just playing to play? It’s not just a sports movie, it’s a dynamic emotional roller coaster.

We hope that our fans, friends and family will join us for a showing of this film and get a deeper appreciation for the hard work, sweat and tears that go into what we know as the Renegade experience!