Is so, I’d like to tell you about Pete Gray, a one-armed baseball player who against seemingly impossible odds made it all the way to the Major Leagues.
As a boy, Pete dreamed of playing baseball in Yankee Stadium. He could picture himself coming on to the field, the crowd cheering loudly for him.
But when he was 12, a farming accident crushed his right arm, and the Doctors amputated it. Yet this boy wouldn’t let go of his dream of becoming a Major League baseball player.
With time, this formerly right handed boy retrained himself to throw with his left hand and to swing the bat one handed. As an outfielder, when a ball was hit to him, what happened next was almost unbelievable.
Pete would field the ball and instantly flip it into the air, as he dropped his glove and seized the ball in his bare hand. He’d then fire the ball like a rifle shot wherever the play dictated.
After graduating from high school, Pete kept on playing baseball, catching on with semi-pro and lower minor league teams, anyone that would give him an opportunity. He did so well that he rose into the upper minor leagues with the Memphis Chicks in the Southern Association.
In 1944 with the Chicks, Pete hit .333, with five-homeruns and he tied the league record with 68 stolen bases. Pete won the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
After having this great season, and with a shortage of Major League baseball players because of World War ll, Pete would get his chance to play in the Major Leagues.
The St. Louis Browns [now the Baltimore Orioles] signed him and on April 17, 1945 he made his Major League debut. In front of a cheering crowd, in his second at bat, Pete hit a single to center field. He was now in every sense, a Major Leaguer.
A month later, the rest of Pete’s boyhood dream came true when the Browns played the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. With five-hits and two-RBI in the three-game series, he helped lead his team to wins in all three games.
But Pete played an even more important role off the field. He inspired the amputee soldiers who were coming home from the War and hoping to live productive lives. They saw him in newsreels and in pictures playing Major League baseball and he visited them in hospitals and rehabilitation centers to listen to them and to assure them.
In that 1945 season, Pete batted .218 in 77-games, with 13-RBI. But in 1946 with all the veteran Major Leaguers returning, Pete’s Major League career came to an end. He continued to play in the minor leagues as well as in exhibition games for touring teams until the early 1950’s.
But after his playing days were over, Pete lost his direction and descended into alcoholism and gambling addiction and hit rock bottom.
However, with the same will and determination that allowed him to become a Major Leaguer, in the 1980’s Pete’s life took a huge upturn. He wrote a successful autobiography and ABC TV did a two-hour movie about his remarkable life. This put him back in the public spotlight.
Pete became a popular speaker and he participated in card signing shows as he got his finances and some of his personal problems in order.
For life smiled on Pete again, a life he lived until June 30, 2002 when he passed away at age 87.
If you convince yourself you can’t achieve something, or even any variation of it, you will almost surely be right. But if you believe strongly enough, incredible things can happen for the mind is a powerful force that strives to achieve what it believes, especially when it feels compelled to by the heart.
The choice is yours. Pete Gray became a Major League baseball player when others said it was impossible and later when he was at rock bottom, he rose again to resurrect his life.