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Posts Tagged ‘baseball

Treadmarkz’s Sociological Study: Brian Sterner vs. Adam Bender

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by Treadmarkz

In just the past four days more people have visited treadmarkz.wordpress.com to read about Adam Bender, the one-legged little league catcher, than those who have visited to read about Brian Sterner, the quadriplegic who you will remember was tossed out of his chair by an arresting officer back in February. That story continues to get hits, and until today was the biggest story in the history of treadmarkz.wordpress.com.

This just goes to show that people do like happy news, and prefer a story about a success and (I hate this phrase) a triumph over adversity, to a story about a person who has been victimized. It’s funny though because even my story about Allen Keita did not get this much publicity and that was awesome what he did!
I guess it is because the sun is out and things are looking up.

Happy Summer, and enjoy your visit to Treadmarkz.wordpress.com!!!

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Before There Was Adam Bender, Before There Was Jim Abbott, There Was Pete Gray

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by Treadmarkz

It appears to me that my readership is interested in the story of Adam Bender, the one-legged Little League catcher from Kentucky. Most of you will probably remember Jim Abbott, the pitcher for the California Angels in the late-80s and early-90s. But how many of you have heard of Pete Gray?

Jim Abbott was missing the business end of his one arm, but Pete Gray was missing an entire arm. He played in the outfield for the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) for just one season, 1945. Nothing magical, in fact he only batted .218, well lower than an “average” hitter. But plenty of lower-than-average batters come and go every season in the major leagues. Having one arm had little to do with it. As you will see from any photo of Gray at bat, having one arm left him able to swing more freely than he would had he had two arms.

And, one could argue that the only reason Pete Gray was given a call-up to the Browns that year was because we were still in the midst of World War II, and many of the game’s greats were still away in the South Pacific or Europe. But if Major League owners were trying to fill the empty spots left by greats like Ted Williams, Bob Feller and Stan Musial, I find it hard to believe that the first place they’d look was toward a one-armed man. No, Gray had to have earned his tryout, and then his spot on the team.

For all of you baseball history buffs, no the Browns were not owned by Bill Veeck yet in ’45, so Gray was not one of Veeck’s sideshows (see Eddie Gaedel), though some have claimed that Gray’s tenure with the Browns was a “gate attraction” and that he was being exploited. This may be true and it may not be. But if he had not reasonably held his own at the plate and had not shown pretty good glove work and foot work in the field and on the base path, he would not have lasted even as long as he did. And guys like Jim Abbott never would have had a chance, and kids like Adam Bender would be a complete side show. Thankfully Bender is far from that.

Adam Bender, Best Little-Leaguer On One Leg, and a Darn Good Player, Period

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by Treadmarkz,

Not long ago, I wrote a little bit about how I couldn’t play little league as a kid being in a wheelchair, so instead I became completely and totally engrossed in baseball history, lore and statistics. I just want to say that this kid Adam Bender has made me regret that I never demanded a tryout. I even wanted to be a catcher just like him, thinking it would be easiest for me. I don’t know if that is true, but it is working for Bender, who was born with cancer in his leg and had to have it amputated.

You can see from the video above that he is not just given a chance because he is disabled. He plays his position and he can leg out a double and slide into second base with plenty of time to spare. And that, after only pausing to grab a set of crutches when he hits first base. And the crutches are necessary only because he refuses to wear a prosthesis.

Already I am seeing shades of the memorable if not great career of Jim Abbott, the one-armed pitcher for the California Angels, who inspired me so much in the late 80s and early 90s.

Why I Like Injured Professional Athletes

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by Treadmarkz

I’ve written a bit about my love for the game of baseball. But I just thought of another reason I love baseball season. Because between April and October (football and basketball pick up the slack from November to March) if you watch the news you can be sure to here stories about players who are on the “disabled list” or the DL.
I love the DL stories. Because it is one good example of a news story where the primary focus is, and should be, the person’s disability. As I have said before, I don’t like stories where the headline is “disabled man performs such and such a feat”. I like to see disabled people in the news, but on their own merits, not on the fact that they are disabled and “look what they were able to pull off!”

So the disabled list for Major League Baseball and other sports, takes the heat off us truly disabled people who are just trying to live our lives and accomplish our goals without being held up as heroes for it, and shows other journalists just when it is appropriate to point out disabilities.

One Example of When It’s Okay To Help a Disabled Person

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by Treadmarkz

Here is a perfect example of when it is “acceptable” to assist a “disabled” person, albeit in this example, a temporarily disabled person.

Sara Tucholsky, a Western Oregon University softball player, hit a game-winning home run for her team, but injured her knee after passing first base. If you haven’t heard the story already, click here, because what happened next was not only a gesture of consummate sportsmanship, but like I said, an example of a situation where a disabled person would probably happily accept help.

NOTE: This is not to say that offering to pick up a disabled person and carry them will always be greeted with gratitude. But you get the idea, based on the circumstances described here. When it’s just the right, humane and neighborly thing to do to offer help is when a disabled person such as myself appreciates it the most. Not when a person jumps to the conclusion that I must need it because I am disabled.

How Baseball Became Wheelchair Accessible To Me

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by Treadmarkz

Today, April 20, 2008, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Henry Chadwick, sportswriter, statistician, and often called “The Father of Baseball”.

Chadwick did not invent baseball, and he was not known to have played the game. But he was one of the first sports journalists to focus on baseball. And it was his early reporting of games in the New York area between newly formed teams that quickly turned this playground game into a game for men which would soon be referred to as “The National Game” or “National Pastime.” Chadwick popularized the collection of baseball statistics as we know it today, and he was strongly against the spread of the myth of baseball’s beginnings, the claim that Abner Doubleday invented the game in 1839 in a field in Cooperstown, NY. Chadwick knew that the game had a longer, richer history than that.

Now, why is this important to me? What does this have to do with the general theme of treadmarkz.wordpress.com? Good question.

First because early in life I became enchanted with the game of baseball, a “baseball history and statistics wizard” as my mom has often called me. It made me feel a part of something magical. Being born with spina bifida, and unable to fully take part in baseball, reading about it gave me something to look up to. Just to know about its history, and its players, men who, to me were close to supernatural, made me feel a part of something bigger.
Then there was that moment when I was in 9th grade, but I was at home, out of school for months, in a body cast after a back surgery. There was that one flash of inspiration while I lay there completely out of commission, not doing anything.

What do I want to do with my life? I want to be a journalist!

And what do I want to write about? I want to write about baseball!

That was all I wanted from the time I was 15 until I was about 25. I lived out that dream and I tried to write about it in a way that would fill another generation with wonder over the simple game.

Anyone who has ever written about baseball or has cherished the history of the “grand olde game” is in debt to Henry Chadwick.