Pitch Perfect


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Written and photographed by Karim Shamsi-basha

When Josh Stevens takes the mound on to pitch a game during Vestavia Hills’ baseball season this past year, he acts like any other pitcher. Except this pitcher has only one arm. He also enjoys the looks he gets when the other team has no idea of his unique status.

“Sometimes they’re like, this is cool. Most people know and they don’t treat me any differently. I just want to be one of the guys,” Stevens says.

It is cool indeed.

In order to pitch at the 86 miles per hour he’s claimed this year, Stevens tucks his glove under his short arm, then he pitches with his other arm. To catch the ball, he switches gloves quickly. It’s a routine he has perfected since Little League.

For everyone else who knows him, his teammates, his couches, his fans and his friends, they know Stevens has defied many odds. At the same time, he wants to be treated like everyone else, like he isn’t any different.

Maybe he isn’t.

Josh Stevens was born with amniotic band syndrome, shortening his left arm to above his elbow. But he didn’t let that stop him from being one of the starting pitchers on his team.

His coach Jamie Harris says no one treats him any differently. “No one expects him to be any different. We just consider him one of the guys,” Harris says. “It’s really impressive what he does. All pitchers use their other arm to make them gain momentum. He has compensated well. He pitches at an 86 right now.”

For Stevens, baseball is no different than anything he has had to learn.

“The most difficult thing I had to learn was tying my shoes,” Stevens laughs. “I don’t think of myself as different, it’s just what I have to do. I am going to Huntington College to play for them. If I don’t make the majors, it’s no big deal. I’m enjoying playing high school and college for now.”

This season Stevens is a 4.02 ERA. He enjoys being called “Nub” by his teammates when he’s pitching. His sense of humor, and acting like any other baseball player, is what makes him…one of the guys.

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