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Experience the Challenge of Being Pete Gray
Equipment & Supplies
  • Internet access Overhead projector to show photograph of Pete Gray if internet is not available. A baseball and baseball glove for students to demonstrate Gray's catching and transfer technique.

Show the class Source 1: Photograph of Pete Gray and ask if anyone can identify this person. Since students will probably not know him, ask them if they can guess anything from what he is wearing [He is wearing a baseball cap. See if students can guess his profession based on this.] Write "Pete Gray" on the chalkboard. Then explain that he was a famous major league baseball player and that his achievement will be the focus of the lesson.

Distribute copies of marker Source 2: A Brief Sketch of Pete Gray's Achievement. Ask students to read it. As they are reading, choose two quotations from marker Source 3: Quotations on Pete Gray. Choose one quote from 1945 and another from a present-day figure and write them on the chalkboard.

After students finish reading the sketch, ask if they have any questions about it. At this point, students will have read that Pete Gray played excellent baseball despite his disability of having only one arm. Then draw their attention to the quotations on the board. Discuss their responses to the two quotations. Students should notice the difference in tone (positive and negative) between the two quotes. Explore possible reasons for this difference. Some might include:

  • Different time period in which the quote was given.

  • Changing societal attitudes toward people with disabilities.

  • Different motives of the speaker

  • Different backgrounds of the speaker

  • Was there a possibility that Pete Gray's performance could affect the speaker's own image or sense of success? How?

  • Insider vs outsider point-of-view (e.g., player vs reporter). What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

  • Subjective lens (closer to the subject matter, usually more emotive) vs objective lens (able to distance yourself to view facts of situation)


Next, tell the students that you are going to demonstrate Pete Gray's catching technique. (Depending on classroom conditions, you may wish to move the class outdoors for this demonstration.) Choose two students - a boy and a girl - to demonstrate. Let the two students practice first by giving them a baseball and glove. Give the following instructions to your student demonstrators:

With your right arm (or left arm, if you're left-handed) placed behind your back, and the glove on your other hand, have your partner throw a ball up in the air to you. Practice catching the ball and transferring it to your bare hand for a throw - all with just one arm! Now demonstrate the move to the class. Students will conclude that it is very difficult to play baseball with just one arm.

Tell the class that Pete Gray practiced this move until he could complete it in seconds. With the mitt towards his fingertips, he would catch the ball in his glove, leaving one finger outside the glove. Then he would pin the glove under the stump of his other arm, and squeeze the ball out of the glove, across his chest, and into his bare hand. Finally, he would throw the ball. Next, tell the class that they will actually see Pete Gray in action. Show the students Source 4: Video Clip of Pete Gray (currently unavailable) fielding (in his outfield position) and hitting a baseball.

After the video clip is completed, ask students to look at the quotations on the chalkboard again and describe which one best describes Gray's career in their opinion. Discuss their responses. Make sure to ask why they chose the quote they did.

Finally, for the class homework assignment distribute copies of marker Source 3: Quotations on Pete Gray with the other quotations on them, as well as marker Source 5: Excerpts of Pete Gray Interview and marker Source 6: Pete Gray Remembered: One Witness" Perspective.

Student assignment for next day: Review the quotations from Source 3: Quotations on Pete Gray. Then read Pete Gray's perspective in his interview responses from Source 5: Excerpts of Pete Gray Interview and Source 6: Pete Gray Remembered: One Witness" Perspective. After considering the different perspectives, choose one quote from Source 3: Quotations on Pete Gray that best describes his career. Write a 200-word essay explaining why you selected the particular quotation.

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