Read About And See The One-Armed Man That Played Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball looked a lot different in the early 1940's.
No, not just the visual differences, the 'old time' uniforms, the grainy black and white film footage and perhaps (sadly) most of all, how white all the players were.
No, there was another major difference in the Major Leagues.
Everyone who was anyone was gone. Not playing. Why?
Well, World War II changed a lot of things...and that included Major League Baseball. Virtually all of the 'stars' of the day, and I mean the absolute biggest names in baseball, were drafted or enlisted in the greatest and most awful of all wars. In addition, hundreds and hundreds of ballplayers with names you don't know also were fighting in the war. Major League roster's were depleted.
Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis seriously considered shutting down Major League Baseball for the duration of the war, but none other than President Franklin Roosevelt interceded and said no, baseball must go on. Not only 'America's Pasttime', the President felt it gave American's...relief, a place to go for a few hours and get away from the stress, the sadness, the grimness of the war.
And so, despite the fact that the great majority of players were overseas in a war, baseball continued with players that were still available.
Enter Pete Gray.
He was six years old when he lost his right arm in a truck accident. But that didn't stop little Pete. He loved baseball and continued to play, making the adjustments he had to make, both in the outfield and batting. And he wasn't just an 'oddity'...he was a good baseball player!
A 'Most Valuable Player' while he was in the minor leagues, Pete was known most (other than the obvious) for his speed and agility. So, when the time came, when the Major leagues needed players to keep the league alive, Pete Gray was called up.
Pete debuted in April of 1945 for St. Louis. No, not the Cardinals, the Browns! Yes, St. Louis had 2 teams 'back in the day' (The browns eventually moved and became the Baltimore Orioles), and the Browns were, to put it gently, awful.
Pete spent just the one season in the Major Leagues, hitting .218 with no home runs and 13 RBI. Not exactly a stellar Hall of Fame career, but these days, heck, that would probably earn him a million dollar contract!
Pete's final years weren't the best, as he struggled with gambling and alcohol and essentially lived near poverty. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 87.
But for one magical summer, Pete Gray was baseball's miracle man!