Monday, March 06, 2006
Pete Gray Born
One look at Pete Gray reveals what makes him something of a compelling story: Gray only had one arm. Although naturally right handed, Gray lost the arm to a truck accident when he was young. Gray nonetheless taught himself to play left handed despite having just one arm. Gray played the outfield and would catch the ball before tucking the glove under his arm, roll the ball under his chest and throw in one (ideally) seamless motion and was also noted for his speed and overall base running abilites.
Gray got his start playing semi-pro ball in his hometown and began playing professionally in 1942. He hit decently in the minors--and demonstarted a capacity for stealing bases--and made the bigs with the St. Louis Browns in 1945. Even given the lowered level of talent on account of the Second World War Gray was simply not a Major League caliber player. He hit .213 and, perhaps even more disapointingly, stole just five of eleven bases.
As the players returned in 1946, Gray was returned to the minors where he continued to play--on and off--through the 1950s before retiring. Truth be told, Gray was something of a novelty during his time in the Majors, the "Freak Show" come to the ballpark. But that was only half the story, he wasn't an Eddie Gaedel-type there simply for the novelty. Pete Gray had one arm and made the Major Leagues. There have been people with far more who accompilshed far less.