STORM LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) – There’s something so pure about the sounds of baseball. Most of those sounds happen at home plate. Meaning catchers hear it all. Or at least most of them. For Storm Lake’s Ben Raveling, he only hears the half of it.
“I went on a plane to Las Vegas when I was seven, in seventh grade,” said Raveling. “I came home, and I was deaf in one ear.”
As a kid, Ben was diagnosed with E.V.A., or enlarged vestibular aqueduct, which means he could go deaf at any time.
“I could hit my head, or I could sneeze wrong, and I’d lose my hearing.”
After losing his hearing in his left ear, Ben received a cochlear implant, which consists of one part under the skin, and another that goes over the skin behind the ear. However, when he’s behind the plate, Ben prefers not to have his implant.
“It’s mostly because when I take off my mask I don’t want it to go flying with it,” said Raveling. “Being a catcher, I can normally see everything more than I need to rely on my hearing.”
That said, when Ben became a varsity catcher for the Tornadoes in 8th grade, his inability to hear from his left side did force the team to make some adjustments.”
“My coach gives me numbers, and if he wants to change it or something he kind of has to scream a little bit,” laughed Raveling
“We used to just call pitches based off normal baseball signs,” said Tornadoes Head Baseball Coach Ben Seaman. “He’s got a wrist coach that has all the different pitches as well as all of our different defensive schemes based on the scenario. A lot of times he’s looking at me with his wrist coach ready because he understands we have to have a call.”
While defensively there may be some adjustments for the Tornadoes, when Ben’s at the plate, silence is golden.
“I kind of get tunnel-vision when I’m at the plate,” said Raveling. “But for the most part, I don’t hear much, much else.”
“When he’s hitting he’s locked in on the pitcher,” said Tornadoes Junior Pitcher Mark Eddie. “Because if he’s worried about something else, then he can’t even hear it.”
That silence has helped Ben hit above 300 in each of his three previous seasons. Although this season he’s not quite at that mark, we can just chalk that up to a what a weird season it’s been for everyone.
“I look forward to a normal senior year. As normal as it could be.”