Beating the Breaks

Major League Ballplayers Who Overcame Disabilities

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About the Book

Few baseball fans are aware of the number of players with disabilities who have succeeded in the majors. Much of this unawareness is due to the affected players themselves who downplay weaknesses and tend to minimize their disabilities, considering them just one of the chinks in the armor that everyone must deal with.
More than 20 players who have overcome their disabilities to have major league careers are profiled in this work. The book is divided by type of disability suffered: missing or partially missing limbs or extremities (Jim Abbott, Hugh “One Arm” Daily, Pete Gray, Monty Stratton, Bert Shepard); injured or diseased limbs (Lou Brissie, Whitey Kurowski, Eddie Kazak, Charley Gelbert, Bo Jackson, Dave Dravecky); disfigured extremities (Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Charley “Red” Ruffing, Hal Peck, Carlos May, Gil Coan, Jim Mecir); impaired organ function, vision, and hearing (William “Dummy” Hoy, George “Specs” Toporcer, Chick Hafey, Ron Santo, Russ Christopher, Joe Hoerner, John Hiller, Danny Thompson, Walt Bond); and neurological and psychological disorders (Grover Cleveland Alexander, Tony Lazzeri, Jimmy Piersall, Jim Eisenreich).

About the Author(s)

Society for American Baseball Research member Rick Swaine has been a contributor to The Baseball Research Journal and The National Pastime. Semi-retired from an accounting career, he coaches youth baseball and plays in an adult league for the Tallahassee Classics. He lives in the Tallahassee, Florida, area.

Bibliographic Details

Rick Swaine
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 239
Bibliographic Info: photos, tables, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1828-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8195-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Author’s Note      1

Introduction      3

One: Missing Limbs or Extremities

Jim Abbott      9

Hugh “One Arm” Daily      19

Pete Gray      24

Monty Stratton      34

Bert Shepard      40

Two: Severely Damaged Limbs

Lou Brissie      48

Whitey Kurowski      54

Eddie Kazak      60

Charley Gelbert      62

Bo Jackson      68

Dave Dravecky      75

Three: Maimed or Disfigured Extremities

Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown      82

Charley “Red” Ruffing      89

Hal Peck      96

Carlos May      97

Gil Coan      104

Jim Mecir      106

Four: Impaired Organ Function or Chronic Illness

William “Dummy” Hoy      112

George “Specs” Toporcer      123

Chick Hafey      128

Ron Santo      132

Russ Christopher      140

Joe Hoerner      144

John Hiller      147

Danny Thompson      150

Walt Bond      156

Five: Neurological and Psychological Disorders

Grover Cleveland Alexander      159

Tony Lazzeri      168

Jimmy Piersall      170

Jim Eisenreich      184

Six: Other Disabilities      192

Bibliography      221

Index      227

Book Reviews & Awards

“fascinating…confidently written, quickly paced book that will entice the baseball novice, satisfy the lifelong fan and serve as an inspiration to anyone with a disability…this is an instant baseball reference classic”—Tallahassee Democrat.