Cieradkowski: Wing Maddox, the one-armed batting champion

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on March 31, 2018:

As anyone knows who’ve stood at the plate and faced down a fastball or had a screaming line drive come straight at their noggin, baseball can be a tough sport even for the most hardy of players. Yet the game’s history is peppered with players who carved out a niche despite their various physical handicaps. Some, like Eddie Gaedel, were a marketing ploy and others like Eddie Bennett were beloved team mascots. But there were the rare few who defied all odds and actually joined the ranks of professional baseball. One-armed pitcher Jim Abbott comes to mind, and Pete Gray’s inspiring story was the subject of a made-for-TV movie. Bert Shepard lost a leg but came back to pitch briefly in the majors and Monty Stratton overcame the loss of a leg and pitched a no-no in the minors. And don’t forget Humpty Badel – despite a humped back he came close to making it all the way to the Cincinnati Reds. Now, the one thing all those guys have in common, despite overcoming a handicap, is that they’re all white.

As you all know, prior to 1946 when Jackie Robinson and Johnny Wright re-integrated organized baseball, there was a vibrant alternative universe of baseball catering to those who were omitted from playing in the white leagues. It’s only natural that along with the hundreds of guys like Biz Mackey, Pete Hill and Bill Byrd who had the chops to make it to the majors, that there would also be Blackball equivalents of Pete Gray and Jim Abbott. And that’s what brings us to this week’s ballplayer…

Forrest Maddox didn’t let the loss of a limb get in the way of playing baseball. His left arm had been amputated all the way to his shoulder when Maddox was about 10 years old, but the young kid worked hard to carve out a reputation on the sandlots of Fulton County, Georgia.

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Originally published: April 2, 2018. Last Updated: April 2, 2018.