Pete Gray overcame a childhood accident to make history
"Son, I've got men with two arms who can't play this game," Connie Mack, manager of the cellar-dwelling Athletics, told him years earlier when Gray requested a tryout.
But by 1945, four years into World War II, more than 500 ballplayers were in the service and filling out a roster was an uncommon challenge at a time when the major leagues still were segregated. So the St. Louis Browns signed Gray to play the outfield.
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He returned to Nanticoke and his childhood home, barnstormed for a few years and discouraged interviews (“I've nothing to say”). Yet Gray's story endured, highlighted in 1986 by a TV movie ('A Winner Never Quits') starring Keith Carradine.
That was his proudest achievement, Gray told a nursing home visitor: "I never gave up."
John Powers is a freelance writer from Brewster, Mass.