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Wounded Veteran gets a Try Out
March 15, 1945
College Park, MD – Bert Shepard, a one legged veteran of World War II, tries out as a pitcher for the Washington Senators. The Senators owner Clark Griffith was so impressed with Shepard that he hired him as the team’s pitching coach. During the 1945 spring training Shepard with his artificial leg pitched in three games. For the rest training camp his main job was to pitch batting practice.
Bert Shepard was a World War II fighter pilot who lost his right leg on May 21, 1944 when his plane was shot down while he was flying a mission over Germany. This heroic man survived his plane crash and a gunshot wound to his chin.
Afterward Shepard was taken to a German hospital where they amputated most of his right leg. During the next few months he was in POW camp in Germany.
After returning home from the war in February, 1945 Shepard was sent to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. where he was fitted for an artificial leg. As amazing as it is one month later this heroic American was trying out for a major league baseball team.
What is more amazing was that on August 4, 1945 the Senators’ manager Ossie Bluege called on Bert Shepard to come in and pitch a few innings of a game that the Senators were trailing by quite a few runs. The left hander ended up pitching five and a third innings and only gave up one run and three base hits. That one game will be the first and last game for war hero as the Senators released him on September 30, 1945.