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Playing one-handed, Lebanon's Mason Adams meets every challenge he faces on the baseball field

Union Leader Correspondent

May 17. 2018 9:20PM
Born without a left forearm, Lebanon High School junior varsity baseball player Mason Adams has refused to be sidelined. Besides baseball, he also plays football and hockey. Jason Schreiber (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

Mason Adams is proof that two hands aren’t required to play baseball.

Born without a left forearm, the 16-year-old Lebanon High School sophomore has learned to play ball with his right hand.

He pitches. He hits. He plays outfield and first base.

A member of Lebanon’s junior varsity baseball team, Adams could be considered New Hampshire’s version of Jim Abbott, the former Major League Baseball pitcher who was born with no right hand and played for the Angels, Yankees, White Sox and Brewers.

“You live in the same world as everybody else, why not play just like everybody else? It’s really no different. You’re just out there with one less thing,” Adams said Wednesday as he prepared to pitch in a game against Coe-Brown Northwood Academy.

Adams has played baseball since he was about 5 years old when he started out in tee-ball, and over the years he’s found his own way to make sure his disability never kept him out of the game.

“You’ve got to learn by yourself,” he said.

Baseball isn’t his only sport. He also plays hockey and football and has an athletic ability that has impressed teammates, coaches and his family.

Mason Adams at the plate during a recent game. (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

His father, Bruce, recalled the uncertainty after his son was born and the fear that he wouldn’t be able to do things like other kids.

Doctors still don’t know the exact reason for his condition, but believe it could be genetic or may have been caused by amniotic band syndrome or a burst blood vessel.

“We kind of walked away with no specific cause for it, but he was born with it and hasn’t known anything other than it,” he said.

Adams said he’s had to figure out a way to play on his own because he didn’t know anyone else in his situation who was playing sports as he was growing up in Lebanon.

“From where I am there really wasn’t anybody else like me that played the sports that I did, so it was all self-teaching,” he said.

He wears his baseball glove on his right hand to catch the ball and then quickly pulls it off and uses his upper left arm to hold it against his body while he grabs the ball out with his right hand and then throws. 

“I just feel like repetition really speeded it up,” he said.

While his parents get nervous whenever he takes the mound to pitch, they’ve refused to hold him back.

“You can’t put your kids in a bubble. There’s a little more angst there than when he’s in left field because there’s a little more reaction time, but he’s done a good job over the years staying out of the way of those hard-hit balls as best he can,” his father said.

If a player hits a line drive when he’s pitching, Adams can still react by moving out of the way even if he can’t get his glove on his right hand fast enough to catch the ball.

Lebanon High School junior varsity baseball player Mason Adams pitches during a game Wednesday against Coe-Brown Northwood Academy. (JASON SCHREIBER/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

Adams said he experiences normal frustration like anyone else who plays sports, but it’s never about missing part of his arm and a hand. 

The toughest challenge, he said, was getting to know himself and how he could adapt to the sport. 

“It’s a challenge within a challenge,” he said.

Head coach Chauncey Wood said Adams is accepting of any challenge. Some adjustments were made with his hitting to improve his bat speed and bat control, but everything else about the way he plays is what he learned as a kid.

“He knows that he’s behind as far as physical abilities but he makes up for it in drive and willingness,” Wood said. “He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever coached. He’s always up for the challenge. He never questions anything we ask him to do. 

“There’s not much that we do differently for him. There’s really nothing at all. He does everything that everybody else does,” he said.

Freshman Calvin Bates, 15, has played baseball with Adams since elementary school and said he and others realized early on that he could track a ball well.

“I broke my hand last year and I don’t think it was anything compared to what he has to go through. I tried throwing a little bit and catching, but it just wasn’t the same because I know for me it was easier to transition if you had two hands. He just amazes me because he does it so well,” Bates said.

Many on the team have grown up with Adams.

“To them he’s just another kid. Nobody looks at him any differently,” Wood said.

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