MIAMI (CBS4) – You might call them a team of heroes. Members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team all lost limbs while serving overseas, but that didn’t stop from becoming first class athletes, and this weekend you can see them play right here in South Florida.
This weekend the Miami Dade Police Department is hosting a tournament for the team. It kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday at TropicalPark. The team will take on the University of Miami Baseball Team at 7 p.m.
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.
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