Sportress of Blogitude

One-armed catcher, 14, takes part in Orioles’ ceremonial first pitch (vid)

Luke Terry, a 14-year-old catcher who had his right arm amputated as a baby, caught the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday’s Baltimore Orioles-Cleveland Indians tilt from Hall of Famer and Orioles icon Jim Palmer.

Terry, who had his right arm amputated at 19 months old due to an e. Coli bacterial infection, demonstrated remarkable dexterity by catching the ball, flipping it in the air while removing his mitt, grasping it and tossing it to Orioles bench coach John Russell.

“I used to catch the ball and then take my glove off and put it on the ground and then get the ball out of my glove, and I was like, ‘That’s too slow,’” Terry explained to the Baltimore Sun. “So I was in my backyard, just trying to figure that out one day. And I was doing something and I was like OK, I’ll try that. And just over the years, I’ve perfected it and it comes easy now.”

The eighth-grader from Tennessee not surprisingly impressed Russell, not to mention Orioles catcher contingent of Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph.

Russell originally learned of Terry by viewing a YouTube video highlighting the teen’s inspirational catching prowess. Russell, who also serves as the Orioles catching coach, set up Terry’s visit.

“If he wants to be a catcher, just keep driving,” Russell said. “I said, you’ve obviously gotten this far. Just keep working hard. You’re an inspiration to a lot of people whether you like it or not. I know that’s a lot for a 14-year-old kid to handle, but basically, it was just keep dreaming big and keep playing the game.

“If this is what you want to do, you have an opportunity and you’re good at it. I think whatever he does in life, he’s going to be pretty good at it. He’s a hard worker. He works on a farm every day, and his work ethic and the way he handles himself, no matter what he does, I think he’s going to be a pretty special young man.”

[Big League Stew]