One-handed Little Leaguer Cole Kellogg does it ‘his way,’ and does it well
Cole Kellogg stands out on a baseball field.
And it’s not because he has one arm.
He’s a darn good ballplayer. Period.
Cole, who will soon be an Eisenhower Elementary School third-grader, lives for sports.
“Cole loves to play every sport,” said his father, Shane. “If it involves contact, he likes it. He spends hours in the back yard practicing, playing and doing it his way.”
It’s been “his way” from birth.
Cole has a birth defect, plain and simple, which cut short his left arm.
“The doctors believe that Cole’s birth defect was caused by amniotic band syndrome,” said Shane. “The easiest way to explain what happened is a string from the amniotic sac wrapped around his arm and prevented it from growing. This is not genetic and doctors don’t know why it happens. We were not aware until he was born.”
How did Cole’s parents, Shane and Tara, explain their son’s birth defect to him? They really didn’t have to say much; there was no need.
“Tara and I use to tell him when he was little that that was how God made him; everyone is different,” said Shane. “One time at vacation Bible school, a new child was very concerned about Cole’s arm. Cole said, ‘don’t worry. I am okay. That’s just how God made me.’
“We really don’t refer it to anything (now),” said Shane. “Sometimes we call it his little arm. It’s not really discussed in our family because we really don’t think about it. It’s normal to us.”
Soccer is one thing to see, but it’s an even greater sight to see Cole step into a batter’s box for his Sugar Grove Little League team.
One little boy on the opposing team – and little boys are simply inquisitive by nature – asked his coach if he should move closer when Cole came to bat. Two pitches later, Cole took a ferocious one-handed swing and hit to baseball over the left fielder’s head for a stand-up home run.
There aren’t too many home runs in the coach pitch 7-and-8-year-old division. Or unassisted triple plays, which Cole made this season on defense by catching a pop fly, tagging a runner and stepping on second base for a force out.
“We don’t discuss him ‘fitting in,'” said Shane. “All the kids he grew up with don’t recognize it, or talk about it. He just is Cole.
“Cole is well-liked and a leader, in my opinion,” said his father. “He takes the time to help others who need help and work with those who need practice.”
Forget Jim Abbott.
“I want to be like McCutchen and be a Golden Glover,” said Cole, who wants to play baseball as soon as he’s out of school. Nothing seems to phase him. Well, almost nothing.
“I have a hard time catching crayfish,” said Cole. “Other than that, I can’t think of anything.”
Cole’s family doesn’t make special accommodations for him.
“We tell him to figure it out,” said Shane. “Part of the reason we tell him that is for him to know how to do things. The other part is, I would do it differently with two hands than he would with one; for example, a simple task of learning to tie your shoe. I told him the basics, but when it came to him doing it, I told him to figure out his own way.
“We never thought that he would not be fine,” he said. “We never had a moment when we thought, ‘what are we going to do?’ We did say we want to give him the opportunity to have “two hands” and got him a prosthetic, but he chose not to use it. He was already set in his ways of doing things and that was not part of it. Cole learned how to play by figuring it out. I would show him how to hold his glove, transfer the ball from his glove to his hand, and how to throw. He just did it over and over and adjusted what I suggested to what works for him.”
Cole makes it work.
“We are always proud of our kids,” said Shane. “If they do their best, that’s good enough for us. Does it mean more that he is doing it with one hand? We don’t think so. It’s the way it is. He just does it.”