Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba

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Handicapped people, will and example in baseball

Gloria Machado León 30 enero, 2018

Jim Abbott.

The disabled, as a sign of recognition of their dedication and skills to overcome a difficulty, have earned the right to be accepted in the sports world in most competitive disciplines, by having national and international events to proudly represent their country of origin, even in a sport as complicated for them as baseball.

To play baseball you need to have strong arms and legs, a good view to decipher pitches when hitting or accurately tracking the ball to capture it and other physical attributes that would complete a good performance on the ground.

However, the story gathers players who with different disabilities have dabbled in this sport earning the admiration of the public.

The first tribute is for the blind, who already participate in baseball adapted to their deficiency and even in international competitions. Of European origin this modality arrived in Cuba around the year 2000 and already has a national team that aspires to compete in the Paralimpiada de Japón, in 2020. It has its rules that differentiate it from the one we know, but it contributes to the development of physical, mental, auditory, orientation and coordination abilities of blind athletes.

Other disabled people with baseball contests in Cuba for some years are the deaf (ANSOC), which although they can do better than others disabled by having arms and legs in shape, also provide a great effort to practice our national pastime.

As for the limited physic-motor it is difficult to build a team because of the characteristics of this sport, although it deserves to remember notorious individuals in Cuba or other countries that wrote their history.
For example, Pete Gray was a garden player who lost an arm in a traffic accident and in 1945 was signed by the St. Louis Carmelites. He played several years in the Minor Leagues and in the Major Leagues of the United States, he participated in 77 games.

Jim Abbott

The pitcher Bert Shepard, who also played the initial, lost the lower right foot when he was shot down in World War II aboard the plane that piloted and played with a prosthesis. He pitched in the Major Leagues with the Washington Senators, but ephemerally in a single challenge.

The Major League Hall of Fame, Mordeai Brown, had a work accident in which he lost two fingers of his throwing hand. He was in the Major Leagues with Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Brooklyn Tip-Top, St. Louis Terrier, with whom he won 239 games in the Major Leagues.

Jim Abbott, left-handed shooter who pitched for the New York Yankees, the Angels, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee from 1989 to 1999, worked in 263 games. Known of the Cubans because he performed at the Latin American Stadium in Havana with an American university team managing to hang the Cuban Team on six scones, he had a malformation on his right hand. Later in the World Cup in Italy in Parma 1988 she faced the Cuban National Squad again, but this time Lourdes Gourriel took her out of the park and tied the game, which Lazaro Vargas later decided.

Left-handed knuckleballer Gene Bearden, who briefly pitched with Cienfuegos of the defunct Cuban League in 1955-56 with a 2-1 record, was a hero to the Cleveland Indians in the 1948 World Series, despite using metal plates in the knee and the head.

Lou Brissie, of the Philadelphia Athletics, pitched six seasons using a steel clamp and a lightweight «shingala,» similar to that used by receivers, to protect his damaged leg during World War II.

Other invaluable handicapped in the MLB were Monty Stratton, also disabled in World War II, made his first appearance with the White Sox on June 2, 1934 and remained until 1938 and the outfielder Dutch Holland.

Some disabled Cubans in baseball

In the city of Cárdenas there was a disabled man who in the early years of the 20th century was a legend because he was the first disabled person to play baseball, he was known as «El Manco» Lima.

This brave loved the sport in such a way that he did not believe in criticism and non-acceptance in local teams and founded «novenas» to play in the so-called pleasures. His position was that of pitcher and it is said that he was not very prominent at the time of making the shipments. This motivated the phrase, even repeated in the Flag City, of when a batter does not have much quality they mark it with that of which this one does not hit him or to the «Manco» Lima «.

Ignacio Molinet, from Coliseo, in the municipality of Jovellanos, had lost half of his foot in an accident and played baseball with a special boot that covered him until almost half of his leg. He was featured in his only National Series in which he participated with the Matanzas team, by setting a 68-ball mark for a rookie, which still stands. He played first base with great elegance and quality and as a curious fact he stole three bases in five attempts.

I think the most notorious case was that of Diego «el Manco» Martínez, who was born in 1901 in Aguacate. At 17 he was a good baseball player, but already working in the central Rosario a car cut off his right hand above the wrist. He had to learn to use his left hand and he had not played for ten years. When he returned he did it in the gardens and to bat he placed the bat in his left hand and helped with the stump of his right hand. He played in the Amateur Athletic Union with Deportivo Rosario and also in the Pedro Betancourt League.

Other cases investigated are those of Holguin nationals participating in National Series Manuel Perez, «El Mocho», who suffered from the thumb of the right hand and thus threw and Hernan Maldonado, who lacked the right eye and also stood out from the mound.

Raciel González represented Majagua in some provincial championships in Ciego de Ávila as a player and later he dedicated himself to athletics, representing Cuba in Paralympic Games. He is brother of the star player Avilanian Raul Gonzalez.

Another one that I saw playing at first base in the baseball tournaments of Cárdenas was Orlando Díaz Fernández, who after an accident when he was small, his arm remained motionless and he hit with the other extremity and did it with great force.

Finally, although I think there are other examples in Cuba, I am going to mention baseball coach Carlos Alberto Hernández Báez, from Union de Reyes, who is missing an arm. In addition, he is a chess instructor.

At present, the disabled have their skills in other sports sponsored by the International Paralympic Committee, although because of its collective nature, baseball is not accepted.

-Notes taken from 1800 baseball.
-File of the author.

Original text by on January 30th, 2018

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