...But I Went Out and Achieved Anyway!
May 24, 2005 10:31 AM Subscribe
Jim Abbott probably shouldn't have been a professional athlete. Born without a right hand, he defied the odds and grew up to be a major league pitcher. In 1991 he won 18 games for the Angels while posting a 2.89 ERA, in 1992 he pitched a no-hitter against Cleveland, and in 23 career at-bats, he amazingly got two hits (while playing for the Brewers). But Abbott (now a motivational speaker) wasn't the first handicapped professional baseball player. Pete Gray lost his entire right arm in a childhood truck accident and, due to the shortage of major league players during WWII, became an outfielder with the St. Louis Browns. His fielding, naturally, was unorthodox: After catching a fly ball, Gray would tuck his thinly padded glove under his stump, roll the ball across his chest, and throw, all in one fluid motion. But if those guys don't impress you, then what about Bert Shepard, who had his right leg amputated after his fighter plane crashed in Germany? The gutsy left-hander from Dana, Indiana taught himself to walk and then to pitch with an artificial leg -- all within the confines of a POW camp in Germany. The length of his major league career consisted of pitching five innings in one game for the Washington Senators. Then of course there was Lou Brissie, the only survivor of his WWII infantry unit, which was wiped out in battle. An exploding shell shattered Brissie's left leg, causing him to wear a brace during his pitching career. The 6'4" southpaw went 16-11 in 1949 for the Athletics and helped himself by batting .267. So...who's your favorite handicapped ballplayer? Eddie Gaedel?
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