As I looked through old college yearbooks recently, I found an article I wrote about a quarter of a century ago, then forgot. I read it to my wife, Susan, and she suggested that I share it with you. It is a true story.
In 1925, a boy was born in Pennsylvania who was destined to make history in major league baseball. Now, I’m not much of a sports fan, and I couldn’t tell you the batting average of anybody at anytime during the history of baseball. But when I learned the story of Pete Gray, I’ll have to admit I was inspired.
When he was a little boy, Pete had a tragic accident. In a fall from a truck, he lost his right arm. But what Pete, who was right handed, didn’t lose was his burning desire to play professional baseball and specifically, to play where Babe Ruth had played, in Yankee Stadium.
Although Pete could hardly hang on to a ball when it hit his glove, and he rarely connected as he swung the bat with his left hand, he kept trying. He was always the last one to be chosen among the young boys playing sandlot baseball.
But Pete persevered, developing a technique to catch the ball, roll it across his chest, and grasp the glove under the stump that remained of his right arm, releasing the ball from the glove so he could grab it with his left hand.
He practiced batting diligently, swinging repeatedly at a ball dangling from a tree limb by a string.
The day came when Pete had developed such skill that he began to be chosen early as boys teamed up for a ball game. He went on the play in high school. Pete was so valuable on the school team that he won the right to try out for the Memphis Chicks, the main farm team for the old St. Louis Browns.
When he arrived in Memphis, Pete was mocked by the other players trying out for semi-pro ball. But in spite of their ridicule, he was selected to play left field and eventually won the Most Valuable Player award.
One day a scout for the Browns, the reigning National League Champions, spotted Pete and signed him to play major league baseball. The day came when Pete Gray, a one armed man, saved the pennant for the St. Louis Browns by making an incredible leaping catch for the last out in the last inning. The game was against the New York Yankees, and it was played in Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth’s home field.
Today, Pete Gray’s glove is displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
You can battle your way through adversity. You can compensate for skills or talents you don’t have. The important issue is determination.
To your self-control, add perseverance (II Peter 1:6).[archive]
Here is a clip from Pete Gray’s days with the St. Louis Browns.