All-amputee baseball team Louisville Slugger Warriors to play in Naples Saturday

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The Louisville Slugger Warriors, an all-amputee team, is playing a doubleheader in Naples today.

The Louisville Slugger Warriors traveled to Naples, Florida to play a doubleheader against the SWFL Naples All-Star Team on Memorial Day weekend.

Pitching Coach Len Whitehouse and Head Coach Curtis Pride have a combined 40 years of professional baseball experience with 16 years in the major leagues. The former players turned coaches travel the country, leading a team of guys on the diamond.

“The only time we get together is on a baseball field and get together and play as a team,” says Whitehouse.

The Louisville Slugger Warriors is a whole team with a few missing parts.

“June 2nd, 2010, I got injured in Afghanistan. Stepped on a landmine and lost my right foot,” says Matt Kinsey of Louisville.

Kinsey says he was approached by team manager David Van Sleet to play for the team while recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Within 6 weeks of the accident, Kinsey was up walking with his new prosthetic. Now more than a decade later, Kinsey continues to pitch for the Louisville Slugger Warriors.

“There is a lot of people that didn’t make it back. A lot of people that are going through worse things and you just take advantage of the opportunities you have. It’s a blessing to come out here and do this,” said Kinsey.

Whitehouse says this all amputee team will only play fully able-bodied teams.

“Because they want the game. They want the big game. They don’t want to play celebrity teams that hand them this and hand them that. They want to earn it,” said Whitehouse.

Head coach Curtis Pride understands. Pride was born deaf but refused to let his disability keep him from his dream of playing professional baseball. Pride proved the critics wrong, playing 11 seasons in the majors for teams like the Red Sox, the Angels and the Braves.

“Never give up. No matter how bad things are going. Keep plugging. Keep pushing myself. And good things would happen. Which it did,” said Pride.

While the players are fully aware of their perceived physical disadvantages on the baseball field, their coaches say most players on opposing teams don’t even realize it.

“When these guys are fully dressed, you don’t even know they are amputees. They’ve got their pants on. You can’t tell they’ve got prosthetics. So a lot of these guys don’t even know. Some of the players on the other team don’t even know who has the prosthesis and who doesn’t, and that’s the cool thing,” said Whitehouse.

“It’s a lot of fun. We’ve taken some beatings, we’ve given some beatings. That’s baseball but very fortunate for the opportunity we have,” said Kinsey.

To learn more about the Slugger Warriors team, visit their website.

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