Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Making the best

Katelyn Pavey was born with phocomelia. “She was born with a half arm. Basically, it just didn't develop all the way in the womb," says her dad, Eric Pavey.  

16-year-old Katelyn Pavey, the pride of Lanesville, Indiana, loves playing softball, and is the leadoff hitter for her team, with a high batting average and high hopes of playing college ball.

I like that second paragraph better. 

“People that've never seen her before come to the fence to watch her play. It's almost a novelty to see a one-armed player, but when you see a one-armed softball player that can actually play, there's a little bit of a difference,” Mr Pavey added.

“They're just curious, you know,” Katelyn said.

“I've always seen her catch it, tosses the ball up, takes the glove under her arm and catches it and throws it,” teammate Rachel Ayer said.

You have to admire a person who says, " 'I can't' is not a word at our house," and that is how she was raised.  Katelyn and her father are working on an inspirational book about her life, to be entitled "Life Lessons from Lefty."

When I saw Katelyn's story on the news not long ago, I remembered two men who got to the major leagues of baseball with similar challenges.

Jim Abbott, whose motto is "Find something you love, and go after it, with all of your heart," was born without a right hand, and yet he spent 10 seasons in Major League Baseball (from 1989 to 1999) pitching for the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers.  As a Yankee in 1993, he pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.  

Pete Gray, born as Peter James Wyshner, only made it to the big leagues for one year, 1945 with the St. Louis Browns, but that was remarkable enough for a man with no right arm. True, there was a severe manpower shortage at that time, World War II being in its final year, but Gray managed to play the outfield for the Browns and get a few hits.  Like Abbott would learn to do years later, Gray would catch a ball with his gloved left hand, toss the ball in the air while shedding the glove, and then grab the ball to throw it.

One of the curious expressions of baseball/softball is that people will say that a particular fielder or pitcher who throws hard or for great distance "really has an arm" on him or her.  How wonderful when we see people who make that be more than enough.

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