Their Disability Didn’t Keep Them from Major Leagues

Baseball, MLB article at Knup Sports

There are many good stories throughout the History of Major Leagues but none are as endearing as players with handicaps that fought their way to play major league baseball. Here are some (but not all) of them and their hard work and fortitude along with others that allowed them the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.


Bentz was born on May 5. 1980 in Juneau, Alaska. At his birth. he was born without one of his hand but that didn’t keep him from playing baseball. He would throw with his glove under his arm and when he released the ball, he inserted his arm in the glove to field. If it came to him, then he stuck the glove again and threw the ball.

On May 7, 2004, he made history as the second player to play in the majors with one hand missing.He played in 36 games for Montreal in 2004, winning none and losing three, with an ERA of 5.86. He played only four games for Florida in 2005, pitching only two innings, and allowing seven earned runs.

In 2010, Bentz joined the football team at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont. His weight then up to 265 pounds, Bentz was a running back for the NCAA Division III program. He appeared in nine games that season, gaining 29 yards on 12 carries and scoring twice. He became a baseball coach there and now is an athletic director at a high school in his hometown of Juneau.


Shepard was born in Dana, Indiana in 1920. He grew up loving the game of baseball and he was really good at it. He was on the verge of playing in the majors when World War II began. Bentz joined and found himself flying fighter jets in German territory. His fighter plane was shot down and a bullet went into his left leg.

He was found unconscious in a German farm area. When he awoke, there was several area farmers waiting with pitchforks to kill him but just before they began that, a German lieutenant Lanislas Loidl found him and convinced the farmers to let him go with him to a POW camp.

It was at Stalag IX City prisoners camp in Meiningen that a Canadian doctor along with a prisoner named Don Errey made him a prosthesis for his amputated leg. On February 25. 1945 he was back in the United States working on pitching. In Spring Training 1945. he impressed Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith enough to be hired as pitching coach. He pitched exhibition games and batting practice as well as one regulation game, making him the first man with an artificial leg to pitch in a major league baseball game.

Bert Shepard

Bert Robert Shepard (June 28, 1920 – June 16, 2008) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who pitched in one game for the Washington Senators in 1945 after having had his right leg amputated after his fighter plane was shot down in Germany during World War II while he was serving as a pilot in the Army Air Forces

On February 21, 1945, Shepard was back in the United States and hoping to resume his pitching career. During spring training in 1945, he impressed Senators owner Clark Griffith enough to be hired as a pitching coach. He pitched exhibition games and batting practice as well as one regulation game, making him the first man with an artificial leg to pitch in a major league baseball game.

On August 4, 1945, Shepard got the call to enter in the fourth inning of a home game in which the Senators were well behind the Boston Red Sox. It was game two of Washington’s fourth consecutive doubleheader, with a fifth scheduled the next day as well. Shepard made headlines not only for being in the game itself, but also for his 5+1⁄3 innings of impressive relief, allowing only three hits and one run. He struck out the first batter he faced, Catfish Metkovich.

In between games of a doubleheader on August 31, Shepard received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his service in World War II from Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Omar Bradley.


Pride was born on December 17,1968 in Washington DC. He was born deaf. Audiologists found him to be 95 percent deaf in both ears as a result of his mother having rubella – German measles – while she was pregnant.) His parents decided to raise him using an oral approach “because of its advantages in the hearing world.” He became a proficient lip-reader and, according to a former teammate, had enough speech that he could be reasonably well understood. It wasn’t until later in life that he learned American Sign Language (ASL).

His teammates have stated that his speech was good enough to be understand and he was a proficient lip reader for many years. Curtis was good at basketball, soccer and almost any sport he played.

In 1986, he received a full scholarship to William and Mary and graduated with a 3.6 GPA and earning a degree in finance. He always wanted to be a professional athlete but thought that would not happen. In 1987, things changed as the New York Mets drafted him in the 10th round. Decision time came between finance or baseball and after much consultation with his father, he chose baseball.

The Mets sent him to Kingsport at age 17 to the minor leagues. He appeared in 27 games with 46 plate appearance where he produced five hits including one home run. But he struck out 24 at-bats.

The next two seasons Curtis had better years but he was going to college in the winter and spring and was running into issues doing both. In his eighth season at Double A in Harrisburg (now with the Expos), he was slugging .356 with ten homers and he was ready for AAA ball.

In AAA Ottawa, he had 301 at-bats and was hitting ,302 with 50 stolen bases. In September, he got the major league call-up. When he got his first hit, he received at least a five minute standing ovation. He couldn’t hear it but said he certainly felt it.

Pride’s pinch-hit double in the extra-inning win over the Phillies was the beginning of something unique. His second big-league hit was a pinch-hit triple. His third was a pinch-hit home run. His fourth was a pinch-hit single. At season’s end, Pride was 4-for-9 and had hit for the cycle. Every one of his at-bats had come as a pinch-hitter.

Once out of baseball, he became the head coach at Gallaudet University. a school for deaf students, where they won a school record of 27 wins in 1997.


He was born on October 19.1878 in Nyesville, Indiana. At the age of 12, he lost part of two fingers due to a farm machinery accident. This gained him the nickname of “Three Finger” Brown. He loved the game of baseball and found that is new grip would radically change the trajectory of the baseball just before it came across the plate. This fooled many batters and his disability turned into an advantage in baseball.

He began his major league journey in 1903 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown played for 16 seasons and 7 teams. His career saw him be a wins leader in 1906 and the league ERA leader in 1909. He was part of two World Series champion teams and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.

In 1999, he was named as a finalist to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.


Born as William Ellsworth Hoy in Houcktown, Ohio in 1862, he became deaf at the age of three when he contracted meningitis. He graduated as valedictorian of his lass at Ohio State School for the Deaf. He opened a shoe repair business an played local baseball on weekends. In 1888, he played for the Washington Senators. It is said but not certified that due to Hoy’s presence in the major leagues, the umpires switch to signal calling plays safe or out.

He had a remarkable career as he held the MLB record for games in center field (1,726) from 1889 to 1902, set records for career putouts (3,958) and total chances (4,625) as an outfielder, and retired among the leaders in outfield games (2nd; 1,795), assists (7th; 273), and double plays (3rd; 72). He was a superior base runner and he scored over 100 runs nine times in his career. He also was prolific and accepting a base on balls with 1006 for his career.


Born as Monty Franklin Pierce Stratton on May 21, 1921 in Palacios. Texas. He was a major league pitcher in 1934 and considered by many better than average. Then on November 7, 1938, in the off-season he went on a hunting trip and accidentally tripped and his shotgun discharged sending pellets into his right leg severely injuring his artery. Doctors had no choice but to amputate his leg. He was sure his days in uniform were over. The White Sox hired him to be a coach and batting practice pitcher.

In 1939, White Sox management sponsored a charity game in Comiskey Park against the Chicago Cubs, the proceeds of which (about $28,000 equal to $589,072 today) went to Stratton. In a touching, courageous display, Stratton took the mound to demonstrate that he could still pitch, though he was unable to transfer his weight effectively to the artificial leg. Stratton began to constantly practice shifting his eight to hid prosthetic leg when he pitched.

He began back in the minor leagues and pitched n games.The issue became when he had to field bunts. He hung on for many seasons determined to be back in the majors but to no avail.

A movie called The Stratton Story was made featuring Jimmy Stewart. Monty became active in his community and shared his time and money to help out the Little League in his town.

There are other players with handicaps that made many sacrifices that played in the major leagues. Check out their inspirational stories. Players such as Jim Eisenrich, Jim Abbott,Freddy Sanchez and Tarik El-Ahour.


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