Tampa Bay Rays Acquire Minor League Pitcher Who Is Legally Blind At 20/300 Vision

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The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired a legally blind pitcher who nearly lost his right eye just a few years ago.

Left-handed reliever Jeff Belge was acquired from the Dodgers in return for Rays reliever J.P. Feyereisen.

His story is one of perseverance, passion and inspiration.

Belge is legally and significantly blind in his right eye after an accident when a rock cut the cornea of his eye when he was 9 years old. He required two surgeries at the time. At the age of 17, he suffered another injury to the same eye that would require a third surgery.

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed legally blind pitcher Jeff Belge. (Gregory Payan / AP)

So how blind are we talking? His right eye vision is 20/300 to 20/400.

“[The vision] is pretty much nothing,” Belge told Syracuse.com. While adding that he can only see some colors and outlines of objects in his right eye.


If anyone knows pitching it’s the Rays, who also have one of the best farm systems in baseball. Last season, the Rays finished 4th overall in team ERA. For Belge or anyone to be considered for their pitching staff, they have to be good. The Rays know what they’re doing.

The 6-foot-5 pitcher had a 3-3 record with a 3.66 ERA, 50 strikeouts, and 17 walks in 32 innings over 29 games at High-A Great Lakes last season. He then joined Tulsa for the double-A playoffs. As far as speed goes, his fastball is regularly in the mid-90s.

This story rules.

Belge doesn’t want his eye trouble to be any sort of hindrance or sympathy story. He just wants to use his talent to pursue his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball pitcher.

Be it former Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott who pitched a no-hitter with only one hand, or someone like Bulge with his vision impairment, if one is talented and has the will power to make things work, sometimes great things can happen. But you never know if you try – be it with one eye, or both.

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.

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