Guest Author - Traci Falb
Have you ever heard of the “One-Arm Bandits“ softball team? Did you know they are known not only in the United States but internationally as well? Upon further research, I discovered that not only is the team made up of mostly one-armed people, but their determination comes in the form of inspiration. The team was organized to inspire children with missing limbs.
In 1993, a man by the name of Victor Rosario decided to organize a softball team dedicated to people like himself, who were missing an arm. He thought it would be good therapy for people trying to cope with the loss of an arm. He also thought children in the same predicament would be able to relate to them and be inspired. The team originated in south Florida and was comprised of men who Rosario sought out through newspaper ads or word of mouth. One potential member was even spotted at a shopping mall. Several players are former military men who have lost a limb. All team members but three were missing an arm or hand on their right or left side.
Rosario, who was 38 years old when he formed the "One-Arm Bandits," was a former softball player on teams that consisted of two-armed players. He came up with the idea for the team after he met a boy that lost three fingers in an accident and was trying to console him. He gathered fifteen players for his team and started the league. They played against other teams that had no disabilities. They attracted so many fans other teams were created, many with the same name, and seven other countries have picked up this sport. Some of the teams playing are even co-ed.
The original "One-Arm Bandits" have played exhibition and benefit games for children and those in need. They have been invited to play in Japan to promote the sport there as well. In 2008, the team added "National" to their title and played in that year's Handicapped World Series. The "National One-Armed Bandits" travel around the world and play in a tournament once a year. Every year, countries like Venezuela, Columbia, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic compete in these tournaments and names are drawn afterwards to see where the game will be played the following year.
The idea for putting together a softball team for people with one arm came from the inspiration of one man but grew in just a short time and spread across the United States and several other countries. The players have a great time and benefit from the physical therapy it provides. They have created an even bigger impression on the children they inspire.