The amazing thing about the sport of baseball is that it is not too hard for people with disabilities to adapt to it. In fact, several people who have had physical disabilities have made it into Major League Baseball, the world’s highest level of competition. Here’s some of these players worth exploring.
One Arm? No Problem
When many MLB players were out fighting in war in the 1940s, many others from outside the sport had to pitch in. Pete Gray is one of the most notable for having one arm. His right arm was mostly amputated from an accident as a child, thus prompting him to hold a baseball bat with one arm while swinging. He had a .218 batting average for the 1945 St. Louis Browns, thus making him a huge inspiration for those who were coming home with disabilities following the war.
One Hand? Not a Problem Either
Having only one hand would be a real problem for a pitcher as it would force the pitcher to have to use some strong controls when playing. That is, the player would have to keep one’s glove on the space where a hand is missing and might even have to switch the glove from one hand to the next while in play solely to keep traction in the event of a pop fly or line drive.
This is a challenge but Jim Abbott had a ten-year career with the California Angels in the 1980s and 1990s in spite of being born without one hand. He had 87 wins and one no-hitter during that time. Today he continues to talk about his experience in the game to the public and has become a revered figure among fans in Anaheim.
The same can be said for Chicago Cubs legend Mordecai Brown. After losing two fingers on one hand as a child, he adapted this in his baseball routine by resting the ball on the stump where his index finger was. This helped Three Finger Brown to win more than 200 games in his career and to bring the Cubs to a 1908 World Series title. Simply put, a man who was missing part of his hand did something that thousands of other Cubs players haven’t done since.
Deaf Players Have Made It Through As Well
Several deaf players have also gotten into the MLB. While there is a strong need to focus on hand signals when playing and to keep one’s eyes on the ball, deaf players can compete in baseball. Whether it be Ed Dundon, who became an umpire in the nineteenth century after retiring from the game, William “Dummy” Hoy, who had more than two thousand hits around the turn of the century or eleven-year MLB veteran and current Gallaudet University baseball coach Curtis Pride, many deaf players have been found in baseball’s illustrious history.
The One-Legged Pitcher
In 1945, Bert Shephard pitched a game for the Washington Senators. Shepard lost his right leg after being shot down in combat in Germany while in the Air Force. While he only pitched in 5 1/3 innings, he had an amazingly strong performance by giving up one run.
It’s amazing as to how people with disabilities have been able to play in Major League Baseball. These are athletes who prove that anyone can get into the sports that they love if they work hard enough even if they do have physical limitations.