09/30/2003 4:46 PM ET
Parry's toss more than just a strike
Inspirational athlete continues to beat the odds
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- You wouldn't think much of anything could make Neil Parry nervous.
After all, this is a person who has endured more than his fair share of challenges -- heck, more than anyone's fair share -- over the past three years and still came out on top.
But when he found himself standing on the Pacific Bell Park mound Tuesday afternoon preparing to throw out the ceremonial first pitch with the sellout crowd giving him a standing ovation, the butterflies were fluttering pretty good.
"I got real nervous when the fans started cheering," the San Jose State fifth-year senior said. "I really didn't want to bounce it to the catcher."
Like with other challenges in his life, Parry did just fine, firing a strike, which drew even more cheers.
Parry gained nationwide attention for his comeback from a devastating leg injury he suffered while playing football for San Jose State.
Parry was playing on the Spartans' special teams unit when he suffered a broken tibia and fibula during a game Oct. 14, 2000. The injury was so severe, it forced doctors to amputate his right leg below the knee nine days later.
The Sonora, Calif., native has endured 25 surgeries in the three years since the injury and made a dramatic return to the football field Sept. 11, when he once again participated on the punt coverage team for San Jose State.
"I was a big Giants fan growing up," he said. "I've been watching the Giants going back to Kevin Mitchell, Will Clark and all those guys. I've been a Giants fan for a long time. I wish them luck and hopefully they can pull this off."
Parry, who attended Game 3 of last year's World Series at Pacific Bell Park, did not talk with the Giants players before or after his pitch.
"They were busy warming up and that's cool, I understand," Parry said. "I'm the same way before a game. I don't want to get involved in any of the stuff that's going on."
Parry will be back in action on the football field Saturday when the Spartans travel to Houston to take on the Rice Owls on Saturday.
A pitcher in high school, Parry showed some pretty good velocity on his pitch to Giants coach Carlos Alfonso, but that wasn't the most important thing.
"I didn't want to throw the ball too hard and bounce it before the catcher," Parry said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.