A Special Time of Year

Photo of a bird and squirrel

By David Hyde

Spring is always a special time. Growing up, I could see a little bit, and I was always excited to wake up and notice the light outside my bedroom. When I lived in the dorm at the school for the blind in Oregon, I could see, through my north-facing window, the rungs of the fire escape from the top floor. The lawns turned from brown to green and, a bit later in the spring, those little yellow flowers pushed through. The blue jays gave out their raucous call and, because we were near a creek, the song sparrows sang their own particular song.

The windows of the school building opened (there was no air conditioning) and the breeze made the wind chimes ring. Of course bushes budded and, high out of reach, the trees began growing their leaves. By far the happiest to see the spring were the squirrels. There were lots of trees on our campus, and each of them must have had a group living in it. Even when you couldn’t see them, you’d hear them chatter and yell at each other. I listened to them making noise running up and down the trees and, once in a while, running across the power lines. Most of them survived.

For students, this was the time for baseball. I learned to play when I was about eight. I once interrupted a game played by older boys. They were running around the bases and I thought that would be fun too; they discouraged me rather directly.

We all learned to play baseball in gym class. This was before baseballs beeped, so we changed the rules to accommodate blind players. If you had very limited vision, you hit off a tee. If you read large print, you hit a pitched ball. If you were a braille reader, you were in the infield and the batter was out if you touched the ball. If you were a print reader, you crossed the ball over the baseline in front of the runner, and he was out. I was lucky. I read braille, but I also could see well enough to find that white ball in the green grass, giving me a slight advantage over the other players.

On warm spring evenings, you were apt to find a pickup game, and we’d play until nobody could see to hit the ball. I always wanted to pitch, and spent free hours pitching a ball against the side of a brick building and trying to catch its rebound. Sandy Koufax I was not. It was, however, fun trying.

Things have changed. Now blind men, women and children play my game with a baseball that beeps and bases that make noise. Everyone is expected to hit a pitched ball. I must confess, I’ve never done it. Beep Baseball sounds like fun, though, and I’d like to try it. I have no illusions about hitting the ball out of the park, but dreams never die.

If I can’t be Terry Francona, maybe Hank Aaron?

David Hyde is a Parent Liaison and the Professional Development Coordinator at WCBVI. You can contact him by email at david.hyde@wcbvi.k12.wi.us or by phone at (608) 758-6152 or toll free 1-866-284-1107 x6152.