Pete Gray

Despite losing his right arm in a childhood truck accident, Gray became a major league ballplayer. The naturally righthanded youngster learned to throw and bat from the opposite side. Batting with one arm, Gray sprayed line drives around the field. On the basepaths, he displayed speed and daring, and fielding was a study in agility and dexterity. After catching a fly ball, Gray would tuck his thinly padded glove under his stump, roll the ball across his chest, and throw, all in one fluid motion.

Gray was a semi-pro star in the coal towns of his native Pennsylvania and with the famed Brooklyn Bushwicks. He entered pro ball in 1942 with Three Rivers (Canadian-American League) and hit .381 in 42 games. In the Southern Association in 1943, Gray hit .289 in a full season with Memphis. He won national attention in 1944 when he batted .333 for Memphis, hit five HR, tied a league record by stealing 68 bases, and was named the Southern Association’s MVP. This outstanding showing earned Gray a spot with the 1945 St. Louis Browns.

Even with the quality of major league play at an all-time low due to the WWII player shortage, Gray was overmatched. But he was capable of remarkable performances. In a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium in May, Gray had four hits, scored twice, drove in two, and handled nine chances in the outfield. When baseball returned to full strength in 1946, the Browns sent Gray down. He continued to play in the minors and barnstorm with exhibition teams until the early 1950s. Gray retired to his hometown of Nanticoke, PA, and became a recluse.