How Did it Feel to Hit the Ball? 'Exhilarating!'

Dad and son able to play baseball together for the first time during the world's largest Beepball (blind baseball) tournament held in St Louis.

July 18, 2018 - 9:15 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A.J. Ashby was born almost 5 months premature and weighed only 1.3lbs.

A.J. Ashby at the plate with his dad pitching in the Minds Eye Beepball tournament in St. Louis.
(Photo by John Ashby)
“They put him in my hands and we ran down the hallway from the delivery room to the NICU. The doctors couldn't do it, they had stuff all over him and they put him in my hands, and we ran down the hallway. It was intense,” father John Ashby says.  Doctors didn't know if A.J. would make it at all.  But he did, and now he's 15.  Surgery repaired one retina and A.J.'s vision today is 40 percent.

"I wanted to play a lot of sports and it really bummed me out when I found out I couldn't."

But then an organization called Minds Eye did a demonstration at A.J.'s school - a beepball demonstration.  Beepball is a modified version of softball where the ball and bases beep.  The pitcher and catcher can see, but everyone else is blindfolded. 

Team from the 2018 Beepball tournament in St. Louis.
(Photo by Brian Brunner)
The Ashby's (In photo: John Ashby back row, far left; A.J. in Cardinals hat; Dana fifth from the right) have been waiting and finally, this year, A.J. is old enough to play.

His team was named "A.J.'s Gladiators"; and he said "I feel honored."  They were first to take the field on a very hot Saturday in July.  A.J. was up to bat first, dad pitched to him, and he made solid contact, but it went foul.  When asked how it felt to hit the ball he said "exhilarating ."  They played two games, lost both, but A.J. and dad both made contact with the ball.

"Watching him actually make contact and then run as fast as he did I was like holy cow, legs!" John said.

A Team from "Lighthouse for the Blind" took the title this year, but the Ashbys will be back next year.

(Video courtesy of Andrew Dayton)