Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/11/12
MINNEAPOLIS Reggie Deal can tell a lot about baseball by simply listening.As he stood near the batting cage at Target Field prior to Friday's game between the Twins and Blue Jays, Deal could hear how the baseball came off the bat of Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe."The way the ball sounds off the bat, if you're close enough to the plate, sometimes it'll give you an indication if it's a slice like that," Deal said as Plouffe curved one foul down the right field line. "Or if it's real hard hit."Most baseball fans might not pick up on such subtleties, but Reggie Deal is not like most baseball fans. Deal, 39, has been blind since he was a baby. Born prematurely, he was placed in incubator. But an overexposure to oxygen in the incubator caused his retinas to detach from his eyes.Deal hasn't been able to see since then, but that hasn't stopped him from enjoying the fine details of a baseball game. As a matter of fact, Deal is in the middle of a quest to see all 30 major league ballparks in a 30-day span. His trip to Target Field in Minneapolis was his 13th stop. On Thursday, he was at Fenway Park in Boston. Saturday, he'll head to Chase Field in Phoenix to watch the Diamondbacks and Giants.It's something Deal has wanted to do for years the idea for this journey came about nearly 15 years ago, he said. But he started getting serious about it in recent years by planning itineraries for his trip.His plans became reality April 29 as the Texas native and current Wyoming resident began at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He'll end his whirlwind tour on May 28 at iconic Wrigley Field in Chicago.Deal won't see all these parks like other fans would see them, but he remains intensely curious about many physical aspects of each stadium. He talks fondly of the warehouse building beyond right field at Camden Yards in Baltimore. And about the odd shape of the outfield at Boston's Fenway Park intrigues him."For a blind man, he's one of the most visual people I've ever met," said Reggie's wife, Lorna.Being blind allows Deal to see ballparks in an entirely different fashion. He soaks in the smells of the roasting hog dogs and notes the differences in sounds from one park to another. During batting practice Friday, Deal commented on the echoes that resonated from Target Field as each ball hit the bat."It's not that I really see anything that other people don't see. It's more the perspective," Deal said. "What I say is close your eyes for a minute and you'll notice there's a lot of things that go on in the ballpark that the stadium itself will tell you. Those sounds and experiences will tell you things that are happening that you don't necessarily have to look at to fully appreciate. "It's the totality of each ballpark that makes it unique in its own way."Reggie Deal is unique, too. Not only has he been blind since he was young, but Deal is also a thyroid cancer survivor. During his trek to see all 30 parks in 30 days, he's also helping promote thyroid cancer awareness by teaming up with ThyCa, the Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association."It was a very changing experience," Lorna said of her husband's diagnosis, which came while he was in graduate school several years ago. "He decided then that you don't put things off that you want to do because you never really know how you have. Life should be lived to the fullest."And that's exactly what Reggie Deal is doing. He's currently between jobs after moving from Texas where he was a program development specialist for a community college to Afton, Wyo., to be with Lorna. The two met online and married in June of last year. Deal's trip will wrap up in time for him to return home and celebrate one year of marriage with Lorna.But Lorna stayed behind in Wyoming while Reggie left for his cross-country voyage. Being blind and traveling across America on his own has presented several challenges for Deal. Since he decided to travel without carrying much cash, he has had trouble finding taxis that take credit cards. In some cases, total strangers have driven him to find nearby ATMs. On Wednesday in New York, he chipped a tooth when a cab door hit him in the mouth. Thursday, he had to scramble after finding out his airport shuttle to take him to the hotel wasn't there."It was one thing after another," Deal said.But he's pressed on, arriving in Minneapolis on Friday and spending time on the field before the game. He had the chance to meet Twins catcher Joe Mauer, whom deal called "one of the great ones.""I was worried about the fiascoes of public transportation and how it would frustrate and upset him," Lorna said. "But him being out on his own and doing this on his own, I wasn't worried about him, per se. It was more about how others around him would respond."Once Deal has arrived at each park, his experiences have been enjoyable. He witnessed the boos that rained down on Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett on Thursday at Fenway Park "They were on him mercilessly," Deal said and missed seeing Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton hit four home runs in one game by just one day. After he leaves Target Field, Deal has 17 more ballparks to visit in just over two weeks. He's hoping to witness a bit of baseball history along the way.Even if he can't see it."That's the beauty of baseball. You never know when someone's going to hit four home runs," Deal said. "You never know when someone's going to throw a no-hitter, pull off a triple play or an unassisted triple play or hit for the cycle. There's always the chance things happen."Deal's schedule is below.April 29: Arlington, Tex. April 30: Houston May 1: Atlanta May 2: St. Louis May 3. Kansas City May 4: St. Petersburg, Fla. May 5: New York (Citi Field) May 6: Washington D.C. May 7: Baltimore May 8: Philadelphia May 9: New York (Yankee Stadium) May 10: Boston May 11: Minneapolis May 12: Phoenix May 13: Oakland, Calif. May 14: San Francisco May 15: Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium) May 16: San Diego May 17: Anaheim, Calif. May 18: Toronto May 19: Detroit May 20: Denver May 21: Seattle May 22: Milwaukee May 23: Cleveland May 24: Cincinnati May 25: Pittsburgh May 26: Miami May 27: Chicago (U.S. Cellular Field) May 28: Chicago (Wrigley Field)Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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