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The Legacy of Pete Gray
Equipment & Supplies
  • Internet access to play Source 5: Video clip of Pete Gray A baseball, baseball glove and bat for students to demonstrate Gray's catching and transfer technique.

Day One

Begin the lesson by distributing Source 1: A Biographical Sketch of Pete Gray to students and having them read it. Give students about 5 minutes to do this and then briefly discuss the reading. Possible discussion questions could include:

  • Had you heard of Pete Gray before? Did anyone see the movie A Winner Never Quits?

  • What was something from the reading that interested you about him?

  • Certainly World War II played a significant part in Pete Gray's life. When asked to comment on his award of "Most Courageous Athlete" what did Gray say? ("…there is no courage about me. Courage belongs on the battlefield, not on the baseball diamond.")Do you agree? Do you think that Gray contributed to the war effort? If so, how?(Gray was an inspiration to the soldiers who became disabled in service. He spoke to them at hospitals, reassuring they could lead a productive life, and, moreover, showed them by example.)

  • What do you think of Pete's nickname, the "One-Armed Wonder?" Is this a positive/negative title? If you were Pete Gray, would you like this nickname? (It sounds sensationalized. And although, it was meant to be a compliment from the press, Pete Gray did not like it. In an interview in Pennsylvania Heritage, Gray commented, "You know, I never wanted to be viewed as a one-armed player as much as a player, period.")

  • Do you remember the explanation Pete Gray gave on how he taught himself to catch and throw with his left hand? Can you visualize what he is saying?

Show the students Source 5: Video clip of Pete Gray. This video shows black and white footage of Gray fielding his outfield position and hitting a baseball. It should take about 3-4 minutes to play. Then pass out to each student copies of Source 2: Photos of Pete Gray's Fielding Technique. Have your students look at the frame-by-frame fielding technique of Pete. Ask if they have any questions about the photos, and then have them file them away. Inform students they will be using these pictures as part of a homework assignment.

Next, provide the class with quotations that vary widely on Pete Gray's contribution to the major leagues. These quotes are found in marker Source 4: Quotations on Pete Gray. Have students take turns reading the quotes aloud for effect. Then divide the class into two teams: (1) Those who believe that Pete Gray belonged in the major leagues; and (2) Those who believe that he didn't. Give each team 10 minutes to discuss their feelings among themselves. Then have each group write on the chalkboard the reasons for their position. Record these reasons for the following day.

Finally, assign students the following homework assignment:

Student assignment for next day: Complete Worksheet 1: Statistics using the statistics provided in Source 3: Statistical Information on Pete Gray's Career. Then go outside and try Gray's fielding and/or batting maneuver yourself by having someone throw a baseball to you with your right arm (or left arm, if you're left-handed) placed behind your back, and the glove or bat in your opposite (weaker) hand. Practice catching the ball and transferring it to your bare hand for a throw - all with just one arm! Has your initial opinion about Gray changed? In a paragraph, record your reflections on this exercise.

Day Two

Begin this day by bringing out the list of reasons each team gave for their positions. Have the two teams regroup for 10 minutes to discuss if they still feel the same way about Gray. Using the worksheet and catching experience as a basis for class discussion, examine the issue, "Did Pete Gray belong in the major leagues?". After the discussion, ask the students, as a class, to draw a conclusion about the legacy of Pete Gray.

Student assignment for next day: Write a 500-word essay analyzing the meaning of Pete Gray's baseball career. Be sure to defend your position with the statistical and primary source material from the lesson.

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