The game of baseball means different things to different people, for some it is just a sport that one may watch casually; for others like myself it is much more than just a game. This entry will be a little different, in the sense that it’s not necessarily about the Angels but it’s more about when life intersects sports. I was torn between writing about the subject in my baseball related blog or my personal reflections blog. I finally decided to write it in this blog simply because although this story relates to me, it’s not about me.
I don’t talk about this much and this is probably the only time that you will see me make any reference to this in any of my sports blogs, you may read about me making reference to it more in my personal blog but even then there won’t be many references. I have a condition called Cerebral Palsy, and for those of you that don’t know I use a wheelchair. I don’t talk about it much, because I don’t think it defines or should define who I am, I just don’t think it’s really part of the equation, it’s just a variation among different variations. Some people may be tall, short, some people may like baseball some people don’t, and some people use wheelchairs and some people don’t, it’s just a part of life.
Cerebral Palsy affects an estimated 500,000 people in the United States alone, with various degrees of severity. Some of us walk with a very minor limp and others have much more restrictive mobility, speech difficulty and so on.
Just like any other human being we have various interests, such as a story that I decided to talk about today, of a diehard baseball fan, a student at Boise State University, 25-year-old Hans Smith; he also has Cerebral Palsy. According to an article on ESPN.com Smith is an unwavering and loyal fan of the Saint Louis Cardinals, and of baseball in general.
From what I read Hans has very restrictive mobility and minimal dexterity, it’s been a lifelong dream of his to be a professional baseball player, but due to his condition he has been unable to fulfill that dream. A few years ago he wrote the Sony Corporation the makers of “MLB Baseball, the Show.” He explained to them that he was an avid gamer and he asked them to create a likeness of himself in order for him to “virtually” live his dream. The game developers obliged and created a virtual version of Smith in the 2010 version of the show. For the 2011 version that developers went a step further and created a new setting called the virtual disabled athlete setting; to go along with their rookie, veteran, legend, and Cooperstown difficulty levels. This difficulty setting allows for a person with limited mobility to play the game using only one button, with the CPU taking over for the more complex maneuvers of the game.
Although the game already has a way to automate the more complex maneuvers of the game, I applaud Sony for making their games accessible to people with diverse physical conditions. By doing so Sony has demonstrated that it is aware of a often forgotten demographic. I sincerely hope that other video game producers follow Sony’s extraordinary example and make more games accessible and mobility friendly to those people with mobile diversity that also play video games just like any other ambulatory person.
It is often said that fantasy imitates life, in this case I believe that fantasy has given one individual an opportunity to win some way to live the life that is always dreamed of, and no one will ever be able to take that away from him. His love for the sport proves that baseball is more than just a game.