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Boston Renegades will partner with the National Baseball Hall of Fame in August

Renegades heading to Cooperstown

On Saturday, August 18th, the Boston Renegades will partner with the National Baseball Hall of Fame to help people learn about the sport of Beep baseball.  We are very excited to work with the Hall to show off the sport of beep baseball.  All of this has been in the making for years.

After years of establishing a relationship with the hall and talking about ideas, Things came together when a book was published.  The first ever book about beep Baseball called Beep, Inside the Unseen World of Baseball for the Blind helped make this day possible.

How?  In the fall of 2017, Rob Weissman was at a film festival in Cooperstown.  While there, he learned about a series of events designed for baseball books. Always passionate about the sport, he jumped on the phone to call David Wanczyk.  Wanczyk had to wipe the drool off his chin when he heard about this opportunity.  At these events, baseball authors come read from their book. Wanczyk struck at this like a cobra at a mouse. Fast and furious.  In the spring of 2018, this book became part of the 2018 Author series.

Next it was Weissman’s turn to spring into action.  Just as he does with a foul tip, this catcher quickly was on the horn with Shirley Tyler.  The two of them designed a program about the sport to delight all who attend the museum on that day.  Tyler and Weissman have come up with a program for the day of August 18th called the Beep Baseball Bash that includes the following agenda:

The Beep Baseball Bash Agenda

  • 10:00 am – Learn the rules and hear the stories – Come listen to members of the Boston Renegades talk about how the sport of Beep Baseball is played; listen to stories of how they lost their vision and what playing for the Renegades has meant to their lives both on and off the field.
  • 11:00 AM Learning Center Join us for an open hour in the Learning Center. Stop by to check out what a ball sounds like, feel a base used for the blind. Strap on a blindfold and imagine what it would be like playing the outfield with just your ears to guide you. See a bat used by The Renegades superstar, Christian Thaxton who set a league record batting .897 in the 2017 World Series. We will have other artifacts to help you experience the sport of Beep Baseball where the umps can see and the players can’t.
  • 1:00 PM Author Series -Author David Wanczyk will explore his new book called Beep: Inside the Unseen World of Baseball for the Blind. Wanczyk illuminates the sport of blind baseball to show us a remarkable version of America’s pastime. With specially made balls squealing three times per second and with bases that buzz, baseball for the blind is both innovative and intense. And when the best “beep” baseball team in America, the Austin Blackhawks, take on their international rival from Taiwan, no one is thinking about disability. Instead, the book reveals a story of athletes who are playing all out to win a championship. Following by a book signing in the Library Atrium. Presentation at 1 pm. Book signing at 1:30 pm.
  • 2:00 Beep Baseball Demonstration– The Renegades will be doing a live demo of the sport outside by the library, to allow the museum visitors to strap on a blindfold and try out their hearing skills to find out what a Seeing-Eye single sounds like on defense, or you can look for a base by using just your ears
  • 7:00 Movie Night – The Renegades: A Beep Baseball Story -At 7pm, wrap up a day of Beep Baseball back in the Bullpen Theater as we show an award-winning documentary filmed about the Boston Renegades. This 74-minute film is about the awe-inspiring sport of Beep Baseball that has blind athletes hitting baseballs and diving headlong into buzzing bases. Beyond the games it’s about the people and their stories. The film looks at hope, heartache and what it means to play as a team. Mix in a fierce New York/Boston rivalry, an international World Series and a coach whose style can be described as “tough-love” and you have great non fiction entertainment. Watch this film and you will feel the passion that is the Boston Renegades! The film will be followed with a question and answer period from players and coaches who were in the film.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is promoting this day on their web site and that can be found here:

 

Good things come to those who wait

To get to where we are for August 18th, we need to look back at the relationship with the Hall.  We have had an amazing relationship with them over the years.  The Hall has helped us tell the story of beep baseball.  They have also helped many of us feel like special honored guests!  Nobody on this team would ever had thought they would have an opportunity to tell their story in Cooperstown.  We do hope that some day, the Hall will consider an exhibit about disability and baseball.  They could honor MLB greats who played with disabilities like Jim Abbott (pitched with one hand), Jim Eisenriech (Tourette syndrome) and Pete Gray (one arm) to name a few.  Maybe they could tell the story of Beep baseball, Disabled Vets playing Softball, Wheel chair baseball.  There are many stories about a sport that lives in America’s past time and our blood.  Maybe this is the beginning!

The Hall plays our Documentary in 2013

In the fall of 2013, a documentary about the Renegades was chosen to play at the Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival.  Our documentary, Renegades, A Beep Baseball Story played to a crowd in the bullpen theater.  The Hall went all out and helped make sure the players had access to see and feel artifacts at the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We wrote a short piece about our experience from September, 2013 that can be read here.

While there for the weekend, We met Larry Moore of the Education department.  Larry, a Native of Western, Mass became a fan of the Renegades.  He had a connection with our team and has found multiple ways to help the team and the sport.

The Show hits the road and comes to Watertown in 2014

Larry Moore came to Watertown in the spring of 2014 to share some of the baseball artifacts with the Renegades.  In his traveling show case, he had bats, gloves, baseballs and uniforms from different eras. Through these artifacts, Moore brought baseball to life in it’s early years.  He shared stories of baseball past and even baseball present. Larry gave an opportunity for each and every Renegade to feel the artifacts and even try them on.  Many of the Renegades and their family attended.  It was a blast for all who came that night.  Larry Moore has become a Renegade fan!

Larry Moore Shows off a Replica Boston uniform from the Early 1900’s

Coaches Lisa Andrews and Brian Cutler check out some old style fingerless baseball gloves

Former players, Damon Graff and Inky get some laughs holding some old bats

Artifacts into the Hall of Fame for Austin in 2014

Brandon Chesser of the Austin Blackhawks stands with his son in front of his shirt and gloves and the ball he caught for the final out of the 2014 World Series

After our trip to the Hall in 2013, we learned how the Hall tells stories through it’s artifacts.  After watching our film, Museum Curator, Tom Shieber was generous with his time  and wanted to help us tell our story.  Tom and Rob Weissman brainstormed some ideas of stories to tell and how to tell them.

Obtaining something from the final out of the title game was an idea.  We set a plan in play to have a league official get that ball.  That was not an easy sell at first. When Brandon Chesser was told Cooperstown was calling, it surely softened the blow.  We also found the Hall wanted more artifacts to effectively tell this story. Brandon Chesser’s shirt and glove and blindfold were procured because those items help tell his story and give life to the sport.  To finish off the story we worked with John Lykowski to get pictures of that final play.  These artifacts went into the hall that fall.  In fact, some of these artifacts were put on a  display for a traveling Hall of Fame showcase that stopped at many locations around the country.  

A Return Visit in 2015 to the Hall of Fame

A few of the Renegades pose with Brandon’s shirt at the Hall of fame

With the world Series in Rochester, NY in August of 2015. We made plans to put on a short program at the Baseball Hall of Fame on the way home.  After a grueling week of beepball, many Renegades made a detour to Cooperstown to share stories of the sport.  The Bullpen theater was ours for about an hour.  We shared some stories with members of the hall, explained the game.  Brandon Chesser from Austin joined us on stage to discuss the game.  While there, we saw the donation we helped make happen of Brandon’s uniform.  We wrote about that experience in two different blog posts.

Read about our experience on this trip and watch a video of Bryan Grillo and Guy addressing the crowd in the bullpen theater

Read an article written by the Hall of Fame about our team and the sport of beep baseball

Thaxton’s bat goes into the Hall of Fame in 2017

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

Our very own christian Thaxton set a record in 2017.  He broke a record from 1996 for the highest batting average in a world series.  That record now stands at .897 (26-29) and is proudly owned by a Boston Renegade.  The Hall accepted his bat into the museum.  In fact, his bat was bent because it could not handle the power of his bat speed and the weight of the beep baseball.  We explored that honor in our blog post here with photos.  We were so thankful that Tom Shieber went to bat for us to get this accepted.  We also had a chance to meet Shirley Tyler in person.  This set off the idea of doing a program about beep baseball in the hall for a day….in 2018.  Which brings us back to the top of this page for the Beep Baseball Bash!

 

Many thanks to Tom Shieber, Shirley Tyler, Andrew Distler and Larry Moore for all of the help they have provided through the years to bring Beep Baseball to the Hall of Fame!

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!