Peter J. Gray
born Peter Wyshner
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 169 lb.
- Debut April 17, 1945
- Final Game September 30, 1945
- Born March 6, 1915 in Nanticoke, PA USA
- Died June 30, 2002 in Nanticoke, PA USA
Pete Gray badly injured his right arm at the age of six when he was caught on truck spokes while trying to jump off the vehicle. His arm was amputated that day. He joined the outlaw Quebec Provincial League in 1938 with Three Rivers; the team, which had signed him sight unseen, was surprised that they had acquired a one-arm outfielder. He hit .306 in 26 games, and drew large crowds. When Three Rivers joined Organized Baseball with the 1942 Canadian-American League, Gray lit up the circuit, batting .381 in 42 games. The next season Three Rivers manager Mickey O'Neil convinced Memphis Chicks manager-owner Doc Prothro to sign Gray. The move paid off as Pete hit .289 in 1943, then was MVP of the Southern Association in 1944, when he hit .333, scored 119 runs in 129 games and led the league with 68 steals. He slugged .439 and hit 5 of his 6 career homers, at a time when the Association boasted just four players with more than 10 homers in a low-power year.
His 1944 season earned him a call-up to the St. Louis Browns, the defending American League champions, in 1945. Gray appeared in 77 major league games that season, but was not very successful (.218 with no homers) even in the World War II-weakened American League. He was sent down to the Toledo Mud Hens the next year and hit .250 in 48 games, mostly off the bench. During one doubleheader he had seven hits in seven at bats.
After sitting out the 1947 season, Gray hit .290 for the Elmira Pioneers in the Eastern League in 1948, leading the club in batting average. The next season he finished his minor league career with the Dallas Eagles, managing just a .214 mark. Overall he had hit .307 in 472 minor-league games. Gray was known as a superb bunter, speedster and contact specialist. In spite of his hadicap, he was an able fielder as well: he would field ground balls in the outfield with his glove on his left hand, and in a single motion, flip the ball into the air while throwing off his glove; catching the ball in his now bare left hand, he would throw back to the infield, all in a single motion.
After his professional career ended, Gray went on to play for a House of David imitator, though he did not grow a beard like the club's other players.
Gray's story was dramatized in the 1986 TV movie A Winner Never Quits.
Main source: "Baseball's Forgotten Heroes" by Tony Salin
- 1944 MVP Southern Association Memphis Chicks
- Roger A. Godin: "The Browns Get It Right: Winning the 'World Series' in 1945 as Pete Gray Debuts", The Baseball Record Journal, SABR, Volume 41, Number 2 (Fall 2012), pp. 61-64.
- William C. Kashatus: One-Arm Wonder: Pete Gray, Wartime Baseball, and the American Dream, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 1995. ISBN 978-0786400942
- John Klima: The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII, Thomas Dunne Books, New York, NY, 2015. ISBN 978-1-2500-6479-0
- Tony Salin: Baseball's Forgotten Heroes, Masters Press, Chicago, IL, 1999, pp. 1-8.
- Rick Swaine: Beating the Breaks: Major League Ballplayers Who Overcame Disabilities, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2004. ISBN 978-0-7864-1828-2
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