The Houston Astros brought the heat to the mound even before the first inning of the May 2 match-up against the New York Yankees. The team invited retired Marine Corps Sergeant Eric Morante to throw the ceremonial first pitch, and it’s one worth talking about for a number of reasons.
Morante, a Purple Heart recipient who lost his right leg while serving in Iraq on his third deployment, trotted out to the mound where Astros pitcher Brad Peacock played the role of catcher.
He placed the ball on his prosthetic leg as he jokingly took signs from Peacock, then kicked the ball up into his hand and tossed a perfect strike.
But there’s so much more to the Houston native’s story than one night on the diamond.
Morante not only lost his leg when a bridge crumbled on top of him after being struck by a suicide bomber driving a truck containing 3,000 pounds of explosives, but just a month before the life-altering injury, he unexpectedly lost his beloved father, the person who got him into boxing.
Today, Morante is a board member and liaison of the National Amputee Boxing Association, a 501(c)(3) based in San Antonio that became the first organization in the U.S. to be authorized to promote amateur boxing for amputee athletes. He’s also the first Marine Corps amputee sanctioned to compete in boxing in the U.S.
“Sometimes people think we’re just going into the ring and hopping around without prosthetics, and beating on each other,” Morante told us in 2016. “Or because some of us are veterans, people think that the PTSD kicks in and we just bash or hurt somebody.”
But that’s not the case at all. It’s a form of sweat therapy, according to Morante, and a great vehicle to help people who have lost limbs move forward in life.
Keep up the good fight, Eric Morante.