Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Pitcher With One Arm

No, not Jim Abbott, but young baseball players that hope to follow in his footsteps. My local news highlighted a young man in the Los Angeles area that played as a little league pitcher with only one arm. I had saved the story and research to bring you the information and it had all moved or was no longer available. In an attempt to find him, I came across several notable athletes and decided to tell you about several of them. As it turns out, there are inspiring athletes all over the country that are playing baseball in spite of only having one fully-developed arm.

Juan Guizar is the little league pitcher that inspired this post. He was born without half of his left arm but still plays the game exceptionally.

Curtis Dolezal (see video) lost his arm in a farm accident when he was only three. He plays not only baseball, but football and basketball. He plays outfield and pitcher and does pretty much whatever else he decides he wants to do.

J.J. LaSalle was profiled last year while attending St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, CA. If you live anywhere near Ventura County, you know that this school is well-known for creating sports stars in the future (much like Mater Dei of Santa Ana in Orange County, CA). This young man is still doing well as the last season stats data also list him as a winning pitcher. This young man was born without his left arm complete but has not let that slow him down. He started playing baseball at a young age and truly loves the game.

One-armed pitchers have been in baseball nearly as long as the game has been played. I found a reprint in the New York Times from 1915 that described such a player. The paper described the feat by this pitcher, Hugh Dailey of Cleveland, which was a no hit, no run game.

Playing baseball with only one arm is not totally reserved for pitchers. Peter Gray played in the outfield with a team in Quebec. Gray lost his arm in an automobile accident when he was only six. This one-armed outfielder boasted a batting average of .300 and extreme throwing accuracy.

Another inspiring story is that of Tom Willis. Born without arms, he recalls playing baseball with the other kids by having someone hit for him while he ran the bases. He was chosen to throw out a first pitch at a San Diego Padres game and took the honor very seriously. Using his foot and leg, he worked with a trainer and practiced so that he could throw a strike.

Also found in my research was the Amputee Sports listing. Paralympic and other sports are listed here including soccer, bowling, windsurfing, golf, lawn bowling, and many more. I often find Paralympic event coverage on Fat Louie’s Women’s Sports Blog also.

I am always inspired by these stories and use them to stay motivated with my own fitness goals. Whenever my shoulder is especially achy (from an old accident), I am grateful that I have it at all to whine about. When I get my knee out of whack (same accident), I think about how lucky I am to be able to complain about it. I could have easily been in the same situation as any of these athletes but walked away from my serious accident with all of my limbs intact.


Lindsay said...

This is a good point. I often complain about my running injuries. The injuries are really minor compared to what they could be. I'm lucky I'm even able to run.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Thanks - I came close to a life-changing injury but am fine so I try to appreciate that every day.