When Nate Winters took the mound in January during baseball tryouts at Winter Park (Fla.) High, he fell over twice. "It just sucked," says Winters, who had made the squad as a freshman. "I thought, How can I pitch if I can fall over without controlling it?" While his anxiety was understandable, it had to be tempered a bit: In August 2008 Nate lost his left leg at mid-thigh and parts of his right foot in a boating accident.
On April 12 Nate took the mound again—this time as a starter for the varsity. He allowed one hit and one unearned run before leaving in the fifth inning of Winter Park's 4--3 loss to Colonial. In the second he had struck out two batters with curveballs on the outside corner.
After Nate's accident, "he didn't mope," says his mother, Rebecca Moroose, a hematologist-oncologist. He was determined to return to the varsity, but his first prosthesis held him back. His prosthetist, Stan Patterson, then ordered a leg with a more flexible knee that contains a spring, used by amputees for anything from wake-boarding to rock climbing. Nate pitched twice for the jayvee, prompting coach Bob King to promote him to the varsity.
After his outing Nate embraced his father, Tom, an orthopedic surgeon. "He turns to me and the first thing he says is, 'That was fun,'" says Tom. "Isn't that the reason you play baseball?"
GARY W. GREEN/ORLANDO SENTINEL (WINTERS)
STRIDE RIGHT A flexible prosthetic enabled Winters to regain form.