When Bert Shepard, a journeyman minor league pitcher, had his right leg amputated after his fighter plane crashed in Germany, he was the only person that believed he would ever play professional baseball again. But through sheer self-belief and determination, the gutsy left-hander from Dana, Indiana taught himself to walk and then to pitch with an artificial leg — all within the confines of a POW camp in Germany.
By February 1945, Shepard was back in the United States and determined to pitch in organized baseball. Senators’ owner Clark Griffith took a look at the amputee’s pitching form in spring training and offered Shepard a job as a pitching coach. On August 4, 1945, Shepard became an inspiration to all wartime amputees when he pitched five innings for the Senators against the Red Sox, fulfilling a dream that few could have imagined possible. Shepard continued playing in the minor leagues until 1954 and later worked for IBM and Hughes Aircraft as a safety engineer.