The best part of Wednesday’s Indians-Orioles game happened before either team took the field.
Luke Terry, a 14-year-old aspiring catcher who had his right arm amputated as a result of the e. Coli bacterial infection when he was 19 months old, stole the show at Orioles Park with his self-taught solution to catching and throwing a baseball.
Terry jogged to home plate where he caught the game’s ceremonial first pitch from Hall of Famer and current Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer. Then, in one fluid motion, he flipped the ball in the air, dropped his mitt and fired his own impressive fastball to Orioles bench coach John Russell.
As Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun described it, Perry’s throwing motion is poetry in motion. He’s taken what others might consider a life-changing handicap as an opportunity to challenge himself, and the results have been inspiring.
“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 told 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.”
Terry’s resilience has garnered a lot of attention. That includes from John Russell, who extended the invitation to the eighth-grader after seeing video of him catching for his middle school team in Cornersville, Tenn.
Russell doubles as Baltimore’s catching coach, so it’s only fitting he took Terry under his wing once he arrived.
After spending some time with Terry, everyone with the Orioles came away amazed by his attitude and his ability. That included Russell and the Orioles catching tandem of Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph.
“Caleb and I talked about this,” Russell told the Baltimore Sun. “When he was playing catch, and when he was throwing to second, he never dropped the ball, and some of our guys can’t do that on the exchange. So that was pretty amazing, that he’s that adept. No matter where I threw the ball, he was able to get the ball in the right place and make a throw. And Welington and Caleb and I talked to him about a few things that might help him as far as keeping him on line and things to help his throwing and some of his receiving. I think he soaked it up. He was like a sponge. So I think he had a really good time with it.”
As Joseph later stated, Terry’s visit inspired them as much, if not more, than they could possibly hope to inspire him. But let’s not overlook the Orioles gesture here either. They deserve credit not only for acknowledging Terry’s hard work, but for opening their doors to him and encouraging him to continue following his dream.
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