By: Alfredo Alvarez (Twitter: @AlfreAlvarez3)
They say that everything is possible in baseball. But the following list of ballplayers who have overcome disabilities, has proven to us that not only is this true in baseball but in life itself. Nothing should stop us, and these people prove that perseverance can make any dream come true.
The following players won the respect and admiration of the fans, as well as the right to be accepted in the world of Major League Baseball.
Pete Gray lost an arm in an accident. He played only one season in the Major Leagues, 1945, with the St Louis Browns. But that was enough to have a positive and lasting influence on people with disabilities. His achievement filled many with hope. Gray changed the way we see people with disabilities. The story of Gray could not happen at a better time, as the country suffered from World War II and more mutilated soldiers returned every day. His achievement was due to his incredible focus and determination. Overall, his career in baseball lasted 6 years, including the Major Leagues. And although in the big show his average was only 218, as a professional hitter overall, he finished with 308 and even connected 5 homers.
You can read more about Pete Gray here:
He was a left-handed pitcher. He lost his right foot during World War II, when his plane crashed. Shepard used a prosthesis. He managed to pitch in the Major Leagues with the Senators of Washington, although it was in a single match. That day he became the first leg amputee to throw in the Big Show. Shepard was the headline of many newspapers, not only for being in the game, but also for his tremendous performance of 5 innings, where he allowed only three hits and scored one run. He also struck out his first batter.
Mordecai Brown, nicknamed “Three Fingers Brown,” was a pitcher and manager in the major leagues during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Brown lost part of two fingers on his right hand in an accident with an agricultural machine when he was 12 years old. Mordecai transformed this problem into an advantage over his opponents, as he grabbed the ball in a way that could throw an almost untouchable curve. Brown ended his career with such amazing numbers that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1949. 239 wins, 1375 strikeouts and a 2.06 career average are some of his most impressive statistics.
Jim Abbott pitched for 10 seasons in the majors for the California Angels, the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers, from 1989 to 1999. Despite being born without his right hand, Abbot proved his integrity and dedication and not only had a good career but in 1993, while playing with the New York Yankees he managed to pitch a no-hitter in front of a stacked Cleveland Indians lineup. He won 87 games, and his ERA was 4.25.
Born on May 5, 1980, Bentz managed to make history when he arrived in the Major Leagues on April 7, 2004, becoming the second pitcher behind Jim Abbot to make it to the big leagues, despite being born without one of his hands. Bentz used the same technique as Abbot since they actually met while studying in the first year of college. He played on two teams: Montreal Expos and the Florida Marlins. He finished his career with 5 losses, no victories and an ERA of 5.86. In 2013, Bentz was named pitching coach for the Castleton state baseball program.
Monty Stratton was a Major League Baseball pitcher with 36 games won, 196 strikeouts and a 3.71 ERA, when he saw his career end due to an accident while hunting in 1938, where he lost his right leg. Stratton did not give up, and with a prosthesis, he played in the minor leagues from 1946 to 1953. In fact, not only did Monty become an inspiration for many, but his life was taken to the movies with the film entitled “The Stratton Story.”
The story of Lou Brissie is a total inspiration not only for disabled players, but all players. He showed that when we have a dream we must fight for it and not let anything impede it. Brissie joined the army to fight in World War II. In 1944, in the middle of the battlefield, his left leg was shattered. In the hospital, he pleaded for them to spare his leg because he loved playing baseball. The doctors miraculously managed to save his life without amputating his leg, but he was left in very bad condition. After 2 years of surgeries and treatments, he managed to play again. Using special braces, Brissie played for seven seasons in the majors. He dawned the emblem of the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Indians. He was active from 1947 to 1953.
Other names worth mentioning:
Sources of support: https://www.baseball-reference.com/ https://www.wikipedia.org/ http://sabr.org/
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