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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Abbott

“Imperfect: An Improbable Life” – The Story of Jim Abbott, One of My Childhood Heroes

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by Treadmarkz

I have not read the book “Imperfect: An Improbable Life” but I am well versed in the story of Jim Abbott, the Major League Baseball pitcher who pitched for the Angels, went to the Olympic Summer Games, and later threw a no-hitter with the New York Yankees. His story is all the greater when you consider he was born with one arm. His story surely will be an inspiration to any child with a disability. Any parent who is looking for examples to give their disabled child of proof that they can do anything, please read this book and tell your child all about Jim Abbott. I admired him so much from afar as a kid growing up with spina bifida and wishing like crazy that I could have been part of the little league team.

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.