Everett Miles, 7, approached the beeping softball, donned his blindfold, extended his hand to touch the ball balanced on a tee and announced, "I'll break the ball." One swing and the ball and slugger charged off in different directions, the ball almost ripped to shreds.

It rolled on the ground, stopping near the feet of a blind outfielder who groped for the beeping object. After a few moments, he grasped it and held it high. But the fast-running Miles, a second grader at Emery Elementary School, was already on base. "Safe!" yelled the umpire-coach.

Miles is one of 122 people ages 7 to 25 playing beep ball, softball for the blind and visually impaired, Monday nights from 7:15 to 9 at Turkey Thicket Playground, 10th Street and Michigan Avenue NE.

The local games are sponsored by the Telephone Pioneers of America, Alexander Graham Bell Chapter 15, a nonprofit organization with almost 4,000 members, in cooperation with D.C. Department of Recreation Handicapped Programs, D.C. Vision Program and D.C. public schools.

The Department of Recreation provides transportation to and from the games, fields and lights. Play begins each June and lasts until Labor Day.

Most of the players are visually impaired. Sighted players wear blindfolds.

Beep ball, which started in California in the early 1970s, is slightly modified in its Washington form, according to Frank Hickerson, 62, a retired hospital architect with the National Institutes of Health and beep ball coach. The original game had sighted pitchers and catchers, he said.

"That was too demanding and therefore eliminated younger kids. So I sat down and said, 'How can we open this game to them without arduous training?' I came up with the adjustable batting tee. Mostly we have children playing with us now," Hickerson said.

Each game is at least six innings, with each batter allowed four swings. The teams consist of five visually impaired players and two sighted volunteer coaches.

Hickerson added sighted volunteers to stand next to the visually impaired to guide and "protect them. I'm interested in safety." There have been only minor injuries over the years, he said.

In the original game, players run to the base, similar to a blocking dummy football training camps use, and knock it over, while outfielders dive for batted balls.

"I had to slow the game down. My game is not competitive," Hickerson said. His players run beside a sighted person who is responsible for a runner's safe arrival at the sound-emitting base, a street cone with a beeper inside. The base line assistant turns it on when the batter hits the ball to let the player know where to go.

Standing firmly at third base, but ready to move away any second to avoid a collision with an oncoming player, was volunteer Margaret Williams. She is a Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. purchasing agent and past president of the Telephone Pioneers of America.

"Players almost run over me often. I get the base and hop out of their way. I usually call their names to slow them down," she said.

Eleven-year-old Thomas McKeithan, who is blind, loves the game. "It is fun because I hit the ball, run to a base and {as an outfielder} have to find it. I'll play until I'm tired of it, probably when I'm 30 or 40."

His mother, Patricia McKeithan, wouldn't miss a beep ball game for anything. "It gives kids a special opportunity to play sports like the sighted. There are no limits to what these kids can do."

Jacqueline M. Dickerson, assistant principal at Tyler/D.C. Vision Program and a coordinator for the games, said, "I can't always sit behind a desk and officiate. Educators should be involved in all educational aspects. The pendulum for learning is still swinging."

She explained that beep ball develops players' alertness and directional, motor, listening and spatial skills and extends recreational skills.

Janean Chambers, 21, a 1985 graduate of H.D. Woodson High School and now a Bowie State College sophomore studying computer science, said, "Beep ball teaches the blind that we can play and run just like the sighted."

Blind since age 10 because of detached retinas and a cataract, she has played for three years. "Just about every time I go to bat I make a home run." Players run to one base.

Beep ball develops auditory perception, said Paul Woods, assistant superintendent for special education for the D.C. public schools. He is perhaps the most effervescent spectator every week.

After the coach blows his whistle twice at the end of a play to permit cheering, Woods' "Come on, slugger" can be heard over the field.

Hickerson admits he sounds like a drill sergeant when coaching. "It's because the kids come out once a week to enjoy themselves and I see that they can."

He tries "to be hard because I'm trying to get them to do the best they can. I admonish when they're lackadaisical."

Most people, he thinks, don't realize the obstacles the blind must overcome.

"They know people out there on the field with them love them. Beep ball gives them relief from everyday pressures."