Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Ben Albert averaged a strike-out an inning this year for the DeLaSalle Islanders baseball team.
He’s got a pretty good off-speed breaking ball, a decent slider, and a sheer determination to prove people wrong.
“I just don’t think of it as a disability at all. I think of it as ability,” said Ben.
Ben was born without any bone structure below his left elbow. He calls his left arm his “short arm.” But that doesn’t mean there are short comings.
He has mastered his own technique. Tucking his glove under his left armpit while he pitches, and then quickly putting the glove on his right hand before the ball is in play.
Coach Douge Schildgen elaborates on the strategy.
“The other team will take their time and go ‘he’s only got one arm.’ But then they find out he can do it. They find out he competes- it’s not a joke. We aren’t messing around,” said Coach Schildgen.
In fact, the team has so much confidence in Ben that they made him a starter as a freshman.
Now a junior, he had a record of 5-2 and an ERA just above 3.00.
“I feel like even if I have a bad outing, they are still going to trust me to go out there the next game and pitch the game I’m capable of pitching,” said Ben.
But it’s the will to get better and become more than a pitcher that has impressed his coaches.
His hard work has paid off. He’s turned into an everyday player for the Islanders – playing in the outfield when he’s not on the pitching mound.
At the plate, he’s able to drive in runs. Ben has made his disability anything but a disability. One of his role models is former Angels pitcher Jim Abbott who was born without a right hand but went on to play 11 years in the big leagues.
It’s a dream of Ben’s, but no matter what happens, he’s going to bring it every, single game.
“He’s not going to sit in a corner. You aren’t going to see him quiet. And he’s going to compete. Those are the traits Ben brings to everyday life, not just baseball,” said Coach Schildgen.
“Don’t let people tell you, you can’t do something. I draw strength from when people say I can’t do something. I draw strength from it that much more,” said Ben.
Ben also plays soccer and basketball for DeLaSalle.
He also has a 4.0 GPA.
His teammates say he is a natural leader and one of the more likable people in school.