Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Debut of Pete Gray

I have written before that during World War II many professional baseball players took a break from playing and helped USA in the war, whether in combat or elsewhere.  Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis debated whether to keep playing baseball amid the war or not.  President Franklin Roosevelt gave his approval when he said. "I honestly feel that if would be best for the country to keep baseball going",  and so major league baseball did.  With so many players no longer available for their respectful teams, it gave opportunities for many others.  One such player is Pete Gray.

What makes Gray so unique is that due to a truck accident as a child, he lost his right arm.  He never lost his love for the game and became skillful batting lefthanded an catching the ball with one hand in the outfield.  Gray played several years in the minor leagues and became known for his speed and place hitting.
On April 17, 1945, Gray made his major league debut for the St. Louis Browns against the Detroit Tigers.  For the game, he hit a single in four at bats.  As the season progressed, it became apparent that Gray couldn't hit a breaking ball because he didn't have the second hand to help him.  Pitchers threw him more and more off speed pitches and Gray's impact suffered.  He finished the season with a .218 batting average and 13 RBIs.
With all the major leaguers returning for the 1946 season, Gray was back in the minor leagues for good.  But he was an inspiration to many injured soldiers returning from the war.  Pete Gray should always be remembered and be proof that any person could fulfill his/her dreams even after suffering a debilitating injury.

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