Four-peat for Indy Thunder Beep Baseball
The Indy Thunder has once again brought home the title of champions from the World Series of Beep Baseball. Comprised of players who are blind and visually impaired, the team earned its fourth-straight national championship during the series played in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“I've never dreamed of four straight [championships]. One yes. Two possible. But I've never in my wildest dreams, think that I would be sitting here with four in a row,” said Darnell Booker, coach of Indy Thunder. “I'm just so blessed and fortunate with the talent that I have.”
Beep baseball is modeled after conventional baseball, but there are differences. The 16-inch ball, for example, makes a distinct sound so players know when and where to swing. Likewise, the bases make a buzzing sound to help guide the runners.
Booker says his expectation was to go into the tournament just wanting a chance to defend the title and let the chips fall where they may. But his team outperformed his own expectations.
“We just took it one game at a time,” said Gerald Dykus, who has played for the Thunder for four years. He says the team played confidently through each round of the tournament, but it was during the semi-final game against a Texas team, they knew they had to step it up.
“Because that's when we had to face San Antonio Jets, which is the team that we played [before] and they gave us a run for our money,” said Dykus.
During the 6th and pivotal game, the Thunder were in a tough battle going into the last inning. “We were down with five. So, we put 10 up on them. Then we go into the bottom of the six, up five,” but Booker knew the other team would fight back. The Thunder held the team to advance to the championship game.
“I was very emotional that the semi-final game because it was just ebbs and flows. And I knew right then in there, that tested our grit, our heart determination that these guys, they don't want to lose,” Booker said at that moment he knew they could retain the title. The Indy Thunder did go on to win the championship.
Back in Indianapolis following the win, Dykus gets a chance to reflect on the sport that he says is not just about a box score.
“Beep ball is really my spot to where I can go with my friends. And that's a blessing right there that everyone's my friend, because they're not always your friends, when you go into a sport. You just got to kind of deal with people. But in this sport, I love everyone. They're all my family.”