BOSTON (CBS) – Fans that went to Thursday night’s Red Sox game got a chance to see a very unique ceremonial first pitch.
Tom Willis had the honors of taking the Fenway mound, and his form is much different from anyone else’s; he used his feet.
“I was born without arms, so I learned how to do everything in my life with my feet,” Willis told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Laurie Kirby Thursday morning. “I drive a car with my feet; I write with my feet; I even pitch a baseball with my feet.”
“When I was a boy, I picked up a ball and started throwing it. Before I knew it I was pitching a baseball,” he said.
Thursday night was “Disability Awareness Day” at Fenway. Before Willis took the mound, 10-year-old Chris Duffy, who is autistic and blind, will sing the National Anthem.
Dan Roche With Tom Willis At Fenway
Willis’ trip to Fenway is part of the “Pitch for Awareness” 2011 national tour. This season Willis will travel to MLB stadiums across the country to pitch a ball, and to pitch his message.
“I always wanted to play baseball. Obviously without arms I never could so I went on to get a great education. I go around and speak to groups about obstacles and challenges in life. My number one message to people is I want you to be aware of the abilities of people with disabilities,” he said.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Laurie Kirby Talks With Tom Willis
As a motivational speaker, Willis meets with groups of all ages – from pre-school through professionals. During his school assembly “No Hands – No Arms – No Problem!” he teaches kids that it’s okay to be different.
During his keynote speech “From the Ground to the Mound – Major League Moments in Life” he talks about his journey through baseball, his unique life, and how he manages to conquer the obstacles and challenges he meets every day. He also makes sure his audiences understand that if you really want to do something in life, there is always a way to achieve it.
That includes pitching at a major league ballpark.
Fenway Park will be Willis’ 12th Major League stadium. He has thrown out the first pitch for the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Florida Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gallery: Fenway First Pitches
“Out of the 11 pitches I’ve thrown, five have been strikes, six (have been) balls,” said Willis. “Tonight I’m hoping to hit .500”
His pitch bounced a few feet in front of home plate, but still found it’s way down the middle of the plate.