Renegades traveled to Tewksbury to play in a charitable game

Support from Tewksbury for the Renegades

On July 3, 2018 the Renegades traveled to Tewksbury to play in a charitable game hosted by the Tewksbury Lions club for the first time ever. The opponent for the Gades was the Tewksbury Fire Department. The Lions club donated $500 to the Renegades to help further their funds to get to the World Series. 

It was a well played game between the two teams with the Renegades beating the Fire Department 5-2. The Players for the Fire Department were scared at first when they stepped into the box but once they saw their teammates make contact, they were excited to step in. Coaches Ron Cochran and Hunter Weissman were the pitcher and catcher for both teams. There was a large crowd of over 50 people looking on in excitement and were very intrigued. After the game there were festivities including fireworks for the 4th of July. The Renegades thank both the Lions club for the huge donation and the Fire department for taking the time to host them. It was a lot of fun and hopefully more charity events will happen just like this once in the future.

The Tewksbury Lions donate a check of $500 to the Renegades as member os the Lions, Tewksbury Fire department and Renegades participate in the check ceremony

 

Our Goal In the Event

The Renegades wanted to spread awareness of the sport to others in the area. Not only spreading awareness but also showing people that not just sighted people can play baseball. We want to put the word ability within the word disability. The crowd was very fascinated by what the Renegades do and how they play. Whenever a great play was made the crowd couldn’t help but cheer even when they weren’t supposed to during the play. Even the Volunteer umpires were having a good time in learning the rules and officiating the game. All of these things give these people an experience they won’t forget.

Media from the event

The story got picked up in a few papers.  Below are links to the stories

Though we are unable to find the article on the web, we did get a copy of it in writing

MIDDLESEX – Though finally earning redemption in a rematch years later, Boston Renegades veteran Joseph Quintanilla beat himself up for close to seven years over a booted ground ball during tournament play versus a rival Colorado squad back in 2009.

So when the seasoned Beep Baseball leaguer shows up at Livingston Field on July 3 with the rest of his Boston Renegades teammates, Tewksbury’s firefighters might want to reconsider the contest’s billing as a festive exhibition match during the community’s Fourth of July celebrations.

“I think they’ll have a different appreciation for team work,” quipped Quintanilla jokingly, when asked what members of Tewksbury Firefighters’ Local 1647 should expect.  “If they have a chance, we have a lot of problems on our team to work on.”

“Baseball is a big part of our nation’s history and culture.  So I think it’s pretty neat that as part of the town’s Fourth of July celebration, we’re [taking part in our national pastime],” he later said.  “It’s a chance for us to showcase our talent.”

Being sponsored by the Tewksbury Lions Club, the free-of-charge event, to take place on July 3 at 6 p.m. on Tewksbury’s Obden Field at Livington Street, will feature some unique rule tweaks of America’s favorite pastime, as the Boston Renegades is New England’s only blind baseball team.

The National Beep Baseball Association was founded in 1976 as a way for visually-impaired adults to partake in a distinctly American rite-of-passage that had until that point been denied to many blind and visually-impaired participants as youths.

In an innovative accommodation, pitchers toss a beeping ball towards blindfolded batters, who hone into the sound to make contact.  Pitchers, before winding up and releasing the oversized softball, also yell out, “ready,” and “pitch,” which further allows batters to make adjustments.

“It’s all about timing.  I don’t know when the pitcher is actually releasing the ball, but after swinging and missing or swinging and fouling it off, I can adjust my timing based on that cadence,” explained Quintanilla.

“I don’t know if it helped my game, because it’s specifically developed for the blind.  But we’re used to relying on our other senses.  So we’re running and feeling how the grass feels under our feet, and we’re used to doing things based on sound,” he further elaborated.

Other significant changes from traditional baseball involves the size of the team – only six players are on the diamond –  as well as methods of fielding, base running, and scoring.

In Beep Baseball, only first and third bases are utilized.  Once a ball is put in play, the batter is instructed by random selection, again through a sound cue, to run to one of those blue markers (which stand five-feet tall).

If the batter can reach that base before the ball is fielded, the offense scores a run.  Should a fielder catch a fly ball, the entire side is retired.  Parts of the field are also broken down by numbers, and spotters yell out to fielders where a batted ball is heading.

With more than 30 active teams scattered across the United States, the National Beep Baseball Association regularly sponsors events across the country and hosts an annual World Series featuring a knock-out style tournament with as many as 24 squads playing head-to-head.

This year’s national championship will be held in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on July 29 through Aug. 5.

Some true dirt dogs

According to Lions Club Treasurer Jerry Selissen, he first watched a few clips of past Boston Renegades games and other Beep Baseball contests more than a year ago.

Watching batters launching balls into the field and fielders responding by recklessly sprawling out onto the dirt, Selissen has been trying ever since to convince the New England team to come to Tewksbury.

“I’ve been trying to set this up for over a year now, and I’m so excited to finally see it happen,” said the former Tewksbury selectman and town moderator.  “Go watch some of the clips on YouTube.  It’s intense.”

In a separate interview, Quintanilla, who heading into his 18th season is the most-seasoned player on the Renegades, promised spectators will be impressed by the competitive-spirit and athleticism displayed next week on the baseball diamond.

“They’ll enjoy watching it.  What we hear all the time from people is [they’re surprised by how] challenging and extremely athletic it is,” said the 42-year-old sport veteran.

Joining the Boston Renegades in 2001, not long after the team’s founding, Quintanilla is no stranger to athletics, as the Cambridge native is a former Boston Marathon runner who was part of Team USA in the 1996 Paralympics.

The Cambridge Ridnge & Latin School alumnus has also been inducted into the Cambridge Athletic Hall of Fame for his exploits as an 11-season participant in track and field and cross country.  He went on to Boston College, where he continued in the sport.

However, despite those athletic accomplishments, Quintanilla, who is legally blind but can see some shadows and outlines, always longed to play baseball.  But after trying his hand at the sport a few times as a child, he gave up.

“Because of my extremely limited eyesight, I could never play little league.  I did play wiffle ball in gym class or with friends, but I could never see well enough.  I would swing so late on it, it would either foul off or be a little dribbler,” he said.

Fast forward to his introduction to Beep Baseball, Quintanilla, known by his teammates as “Joe Q”, has finally been able to live out that childhood dream.  And as the all-time Boston Renegades leader in games played, at bats, and runs scored, the Medford resident takes his craft seriously.

“We’re fierce competitors. We’re not doing it for exercise or to meet people.  We all live baseball,” said the team veteran.  “And if there’s anybody out there who’s blind and interested in baseball, we’d like to let them know about our team.  As long as you come to practice and are willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter.”

Back to our mission

A former town selectman who focused his passion for community activism into the non-profit upon his retirement from political life, Selissen considers the July 3 exhibition match as a chance to highlight the Lions Club’s underlying humanitarian mission.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.  “From my perspective, it never ceases to amaze me to see how people can overcome their disabilities.  And it’s great for the Tewksbury Lions Club to be doing what we should be doing: Bringing attention and awareness to people with vision problems.”

With the Lions Club long-known for its efforts to eliminate blindness and improve vision health, Selissen sees the promotion of those causes as more appropriate given Tewksbury’s connections to Anne Sullivan, a one-time Tewksbury State Hospital patient who went on to become the world-famous tutor of Helen Keller, who had been blind and deaf since she was 19-months-old.

In 1985, Tewskbury town officials paid homage to Sullivan and Keller by dedicating a memorial to the teacher and her famous pupil on the Town Common.  The sculpture, dedicated during the 250th anniversary of the town’s 1764 founding, tries to capture the momentous breakthrough in 1887, when Sullivan communicated “water” to her student by running water over her hands while spelling out the word.

Decades later, Keller, a famous author and social activist for the disabled, would convince Lions Club members to take on her cause by becoming, ‘knights of the blind in [the] crusade against darkness”.

This year, the Tewksbury volunteer group raised $7,000 for the Massachusetts Lions’ Research Foundation for macular degeneration.  The local Lions also recently sent about 700 pairs of eyeglasses to Guatemala, while it hopes to begin a new campaign to help those with vision problems in Haiti.

According to Selissen, who will soon become the local Lions’ Club President, the service group is also raising money to purchase a Lens Meter, which will help in identifying the prescription types of donated prescription eyeglasses.

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