Beep Baseball Keeps John Parker Active and Empowered

Beep Baseball Keeps John Parker Active and Empowered

Posted on Aug.20, 2009, by , under Inspirational Stories


John Parker was officiating at a Topeka soccer league game in 1981 when his life changed forever.

He graduated from Hayden in 1979 and played amateur soccer with the intention of trying out as a goalie for a pro soccer team because he was too short to play basketball, his favorite sport, in elite leagues.

But life sometimes has a way of altering plans.

Parker was lining players up for a direct kick when the person taking the kick went before Parker’s whistle and hit him squarely in the head with the ball from 10 feet away.

“To be told by the doctor you won’t be able to see clearly again, you won’t be able to drive, you won’t be able to read, to see people’s faces from outside of six inches — it’s just devastating,” Parker said.

The hit to Parker’s head jarred his optic nerves and inflamed them, which led to their deterioration. Parker has severe bilateral optic neuritis, and he can’t see anything centrally but has some peripheral vision and sees contrast.

“I felt very alone,” Parker said. “I didn’t cope very well at first.”

With support from his brother Phil; an “ornery” friend Dennis Baranski; who still wanted to bet when they played golf; and others, Parker made a spectacular rebound. Since the injury, he has played 20 years of beep baseball, which is for the visually impaired; created the beep baseball team the Kansas All Stars; and was elected the first president of the Kansas Association of Blind Athletes.

“If you help empower somebody they will empower themselves,” Parker said of one of KABA’s aims, “and they spread it around.”

Parker began empowering himself after coping with his condition. One way he did this was through beep baseball. He started playing in 1990 and excelled, despite numerous trips to the emergency room.

“This is a very intense sport,” Parker said, as he rattled off a list of injuries he has suffered — broken ribs, a broken knee, arm, nose and cheekbone and a couple of concussions. His right eye doesn’t close when he sleeps because of the injury to his cheek bone….

Source for complete article: