This past Friday, East Carolina sophomore Parker Byrd became the first NCAA Division 1 baseball player to compete on the diamond with a prosthetic leg.

Asked in a post-game press conference how it felt to get back into the game after an extended hiatus, Byrd grew emotional.

“Chill bumps, man,” he told reporters. “It’s absolutely phenomenal.”

A 2022 boating accident threatened to end the collegian’s baseball career — and his life — but dozens of surgeries later, the North Carolina native worked his way back onto the active roster. His pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning of East Carolina’s opener electrified the 5,000-plus fans.

Byrd drew a walk and was replaced by a pinch runner.

The highly touted recruit from Scotland High School in Laurinburg, N.C., told reporters after the game:

“The umpire behind home plate told me when I was making a change, he said he’s been umpiring for 17, 18 years and it’s the coolest moment he’s ever been a part of. So he said he was tearing up back there, as I was, when he was running off the field.”

Parker Byrd’s return to the game brings to mind the inspirational story of Monty Stratton, the Chicago White Sox pitcher who lost his leg in a hunting accident back in 1938. The Texas native battled for years in the minor leagues on a wooden leg. He never did make it back to the majors, but his perseverance and tenacity roused the emotions of the nation.

The Monty Stratton Story, starring Jimmy Stewart, won an Academy Award. Ronald Reagan originally auditioned for the part, but Warner Brothers refused to let him make a film for a different studio.

The Strattons were longtime faithful members of Wesley Methodist Church in Greenville, Tex.

Parker Byrd, who is also a Christian, credits the Lord with helping him navigate an extremely difficult and trying ordeal.

“Trying to understand His purpose takes faith,” Byrd said. “My story is a story of many miracles and a whole lot of faith.”

Byrd, who is connected with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, doesn’t sugarcoat the trials – but also sees them as intended for a higher purpose.

“It’s definitely a different lifestyle,” Byrd said, alluding to living with a prosthetic leg. “It’s just really just showing His work, just giving everything back to Him, just showing everybody that it’s not really me doing it; I’m putting in the work, but it’s all through Him. And just showing His miraculous ways through all of it is really what I love doing and just showing people the true reason why I’m here.”

Pastor Paul Lammond, who’s been helping and praying for Byrd throughout his recovery and rehabilitation, recently shared, “It just shows what God can do when you put your faith in Him, when you walk with Him, and you just give it all to Him.”

Focus on the Family and the Daily Citizen join with countless others in celebrating Parker Byrd’s hard-fought return to baseball. But even more impressive is the way this courageous young man has leveraged his painful and tragic setback to showcase God’s redeeming power and glory.

 

Image Credit: Fox News