It’s important to note the game of baseball could become a Paralympic sport in 2020. With this in mind, the Baltimore Orioles have done well to represent all members of their community. This includes the blind.
According to the O’s, they are the first U.S. professional team to use Braille lettering on their game-day uniforms.
In fact, Baltimore city is home to the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) headquarters. The organization moved to the city 40 years ago.
Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, The home team celebrated the NFB’s 40 year anniversary at Camden Yards with a historic fashion statement.
Braille dots spelled out the word “Orioles” on the fronts of players’ jerseys, and the same style was used to signify players names on their backs
Fans received Braille alphabet cards at the ballpark.
Initially, the team planned to honor the NFB on July 26, in collaboration with the 28th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, but when they learned of their city’s rich history, they formalized an unprecedented approach.
Coupled with Braille uniforms and lineup cards, the O’s invited a blind concert pianist, Carlos Ibay, to sing the national anthem. NFB President Mark Riccobono threw out the first pitch.
Riccobono admits throwing out the first pitch was “a little bit nerve-racking,” but he maintains it helped that he’d “done a lot of nerve-racking stuff” in his life.
“It really means a lot that the Baltimore Orioles are acknowledging [the anniversary], and not just in a way that says, ‘It’s nice to have you,’ but in a real way that’s authentic to blind people, by including Braille, which is the means that blind people use for literacy all across the world,” Riccobono said before the game.
Furthermore, he says when the team agreed to use the lettering on their uniforms, his organization thought it was “a fantastic idea” and suggested distributing the alphabet cards to help fans learn “what Braille is, and how to recognize the characters.”
All in all, we commend the Baltimore Orioles for being in tune with their city’s history and finding innovative ways to highlight diverse members of the community.