MIAMI (CBS4) – It was “Game On” Saturday at Tropical Park for a group of wounded warriors who lost limbs while serving overseas.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team took on the Miami Dade Police Department in the morning and then lost 22-3 to the University of Miami Baseball Team that night.
The highly skilled players are chosen from all over the country. And travel year-round. On the practice field they look like any other softball team, but the bond among the ballplayers goes beyond their love of the game.
“It’s one of the biggest honors of my life to take the field with these guys every day,” said shortstop Matt Kinsey who lost part of his right leg when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan.
Each player on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team served in either Iraq or Afghanistan and each has a permanent reminder of his sacrifice.
“August first 2007 routine patrol , we were actually done with the patrol heading back to base and a bomb hit on the right side of the vehicle and actually took my left leg,” explained Saul Bosquez who plays third base. “I didn’t know — am I going to walk am I going to run.”
The shared doubts have now turned to shared confidence. The team members learned not only to cope with the loss of a limb but to play softball so well they play all over the country.
Coach David Van Sleet founded the team.
“Communities see this team and they feel sorry for them at first, and then they see them warming up and they’re glad they’re getting into an activity, and then by the second inning they’re saying ‘Oh my God, I don’t even look at these guys as amputees anymore,’” he said.
Even at practice, the team tends to draw a crowd and although some stare they are stares of awe. While technically the team has no home field advantage, it doesn’t take long to win fans everywhere they play.
“We pretty much make every field we come to our home field because everyone’s so nice to us and supports us,” said Kinsey.