Parker Byrd: Overcoming Adversity On the Baseball Diamond

Cheers, applause and shots followed Parker Byrd as he walked toward home plate, so once he reached the batter’s box, he removed his helmet and tilted it.

It was the eighth inning Friday, with East Carolina en route to a season-opening victory, 16-2 over Rider at Clark-LeClair Stadium, and Byrd – hitting and ultimately scoring on balls – became the first Division I baseball player to appear in a game with a prosthetic leg.

A boating accident in 2022 resulted in the amputation of his right leg.

Parker Byrd drew a walk as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of East Carolina’s victory. Screenshot via X/@ECUBaseball

Byrd required 22 surgeries in 45 days, according to The Athletic.

But the right-handed infielder and pitcher gradually worked his way back, until he returned to a Pirates team he had originally committed to playing college baseball.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to have the opportunity I had today,” Byrd said after the game, according to The Athletic.

Byrd left Scotland High School in Laurinburg, North Carolina, as the No. 328 overall prospect and No. 75 shortstop nationally – with No. 20 and No. 2, respectively, in North Carolina – in the class of 2022, according to Perfect Game. .

But everything changed when he went tubing the summer before he went to East Carolina and, after falling off the tube, he was hit by the boat’s propeller while trying to get back , according to WHSV.

He left the scene by helicopter and his right leg was amputated below the knee, his mother, Mitzi, wrote in a Facebook post at the time.

Parker Byrd lost part of his right leg following a boating accident before starting at East Carolina in 2022. Screenshot via X/@11point7

She described it all as a “bad nightmare” that wasn’t over.

Byrd “knew I was dying in the helicopter,” he told WITN in October 2022.

Still, Byrd hasn’t strayed from his desire to play baseball for the Pirates.

Parker Byrd was greeted by cheers from East Carolina fans when he entered in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter. Screenshot via X/@ECUBaseball

“Just because I lost a leg doesn’t mean I lost hope or lost my heart,” Byrd told WITN in October 2022. “So I’m just going to try to do everything that I can. I can just go back to the field.

That happened Friday after East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin inserted Byrd into the lineup in the eighth inning.

Godwin reminded reporters after the game that Jimmy Paylor – a veteran umpire – told the Pirates coach that he started crying during the “coolest moment” he had ever experienced.

The first pitch to Byrd was a strike.

Then three bullets followed.

And after Rider’s fifth pitch from the field ended outside the strike zone, Byrd flipped his bat toward the East Carolina dugout and ran down the baseline.

He was replaced by a throwing runner.

And waiting near the dugout were Godwin, his teammates and others cheering in the final stage of a recovery that once seemed improbable but now had a storybook ending.

“It’s been a long journey,” Godwin told reporters Friday. “It’s one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had as a coach. There will be others [opportunities], but he worked hard. It was super moving.

2024-02-17 03:34:35
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