Parker Hanson: My Story

Portrait photo of Parker Hanson with baseball uniform and glove.My name is Parker Hanson and I am a board member for Employment Disability Resources. A fun fact about me, I was born without my left hand and overcame my disability to play professional baseball. I am proud to say I am 1 of 2 people ever to play professional baseball with only one hand, the first being Jim Abbott who played multiple seasons in Major League Baseball, and also threw a no-hitter.

My journey to professional baseball started when I was 3 years old when I first picked up a bat and glove, playing T-Ball in the yard with my older siblings. My siblings played a vital role in my development as an athlete as I consistently played against bigger, faster, and stronger competition, and being that they are my siblings, they never took it easy on me. As the years went on, it was apparent that I had the mental ability to play at a high level, but it was still a question mark if I would be able to physically adapt to play at a high level with only one hand. As you could imagine, it took me much longer to learn the basic skills in baseball and in life as I had to adapt to my disability. I was fortunate enough to have access to prosthetic arms and a baseball attachment that connected to the bat, which allowed me to swing with both arms and generate more power. As for playing in the field, I had to develop a glove transfer which featured me catching and throwing with my right hand. To try to paint a picture of this, I would catch the ball, quickly take the glove off and pin it in my left elbow, grab the ball and throw, and quickly put my glove back on. Thankfully, my family was always extremely supportive of my career and even invested in a pitching machine and batting cage for me to use at home. I would end up spending any free time I had getting extra reps in and developing my abilities. 

Parker Hanson up at bat playing baseball.

My first experience with major adversity came in 5th grade when I was left off of the travel baseball team in my hometown. Parents of my classmates didn’t think I would be able to play in high school, so they decided to not let me play or practice with the team. This turned out to be a pivotal point in my life as I used this as motivation to become a better player and prove anyone who didn’t believe in me wrong. After years of practice, I wound up being a 3-time All-Conference and 2-time All-Section player in high school as well as a captain of the team before earning a college scholarship. For the next 5 years in college I continued to dedicate myself to becoming the best teammate and player I could be. My whole career I was surrounded by great teammates and coaches who believed in me, which is ultimately what led me to sign professionally with the Sioux Falls Canaries. 

Parker Hanson pitching a ball at a baseball game.

I share my journey to professional baseball to highlight that disabilities do not define people. In fact, I don’t look at my arm as a disability, I look at it as an ability to inspire others. I am grateful that I get to play a small role in ending the stigma around disabilities hindering people, and I will continue to be an advocate that the only disability that can hinder you in life is a bad attitude. The last thing I want to leave you with is a quote my mom told me when I was 8 years old and struggling: “Parker, there are people who have every finger, toe, and bone who are more handicapped than you because they don’t try.”

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