Pitcher Turned Fighter Pilot – Bert Shepard: A True Hero
One of the most inspiring stories to come out of baseball during World War II was that of Bert Shepard, a left handed pitcher for the 1941 Bisbee Bees
In 1942, Shepard joined the U.S. Army Air Forces, where he earned his wings as a P-38 fighter pilot. Assigned to a fighter group stationed in England, he flew on numerous combat missions against German targets in occupied Europe.
Pilot turned P.O.W.
Shot down over Germany on his 34th mission, Lt. Shepard was badly wounded and captured by the Germans. His lower right leg amputated, Shepard passed the time playing catch with a cricket ball.
A New Leg and New Start
Repatriated in Feb. 1945 in a swap of badly wounded POWs, Shepard asked for a chance to play professional baseball. During the spring of 1945 he was given a tryout with the Washington Nationals (AKA Senators) and earned a spot on the team.
The One-Legged Pitcher
In August 1945, Bert Shepard, player-coach for the Nationals, entered a game as a reliever against the Boston Red Sox and entered the pages of baseball history as the only man to play major league ball on an artificial leg.