An inspiration to us all….

| April 2, 2021

Pete Gray, the St. Louis Browns’ one-armed outfielder, batting at Yankee Stadium in May 1945. (Harry Harris/AP)

This is a brief story about a handicapped ball player from the 1940s who became an inspiration to disabled World War II vets.  His name was Pete Gray.

From the article:  At age six, while hitching a ride home on a grocer’s delivery truck, Gray slipped off and his right arm was crushed by the truck’s wheel. Gray was rushed to the hospital, where his arm was amputated from the elbow down.

Undeterred, the formerly right-handed Gray was intent on accepting no favors for his disability. So, he became a lefty, removing “almost all the padding from his glove to provide greater feel for catches and to help him draw the ball clear to throw after placing the glove under the stump of his right shoulder,” according to the New York Times.

As a teen Gray began chasing his professional aspirations by starting as the lowly mascot for a semi-pro club in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. He soon turned that gig into a starting position on the team.

Gray continued to bounce around semi-pro clubs until 1941, when he gave up baseball and attempted to join the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. – article

When he tried to enlist in the Army during WWII, he was turned down because of his missing forearm. Frustrated, he worked harder and became a major league player, batting .333 with 5 home runs, stealing 68 bases and becoming the league’s outstanding outfield player.

He became an inspiration to disabled veterans. He passed out of this world at the age of 87. The full article is at the link. A video of the movie about him is included in the article.

When I find something about someone like this, who made the most of a very real disability that might have made his life difficult, the SV phonies become sad little things that can’t compare to this man.

Category: Baseball, Bravo Zulu, Historical

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They made a pretty good movie about him starring Keith Carradine a few decades back.

Lot of folks thought he was a publicity stunt (the St. Louis Browns had a proud history of such oddness – in ’51 they played a ‘little person’ 3’7″ tall with the number 1/8) but Pete was a surprisingly good player. Unfortunately, like Pedro Cerrano, Pete couldn’t hit a breaking ball, and once opposing pitchers found out his majors career was effectively over. But how many able-bodied folks get 10 years in pro baseball?


Had a guy on our little league team back in the fifties with an
identical challenge. A shortstop. When the ball was hit to him as a line drive he would make the catch, drop the glove and nail the caught off
base runner in a pickle. To this day I picture him alongside many of the
heroes that served in our military, overcoming whatever obstacle in their
way to live a productive and happy life.


Here too ‘beans. Gentleman on our Church softball team. Lost his arm as a Navy Boy in WWII, Pacific Theater. He was the pitcher and I saw him catch a line drive many a time, barehanded. Saw him put many a pitch over the center field fence when at bat. These sissy punk pro players today are out for the season with a hangnail. He never asked for any quarter on the field…and never gave any. Off the field…Great guy. RIP Mr Rosco Cross.


Baseball in the post-Civil War days was played by real men… no gloves, and a home-plate style rundown to force the baseman to drop the ball was legal at all four corners.