Terryís determination amazes millions
With all the divisiveness and hyperbole taking over every day on both the news and social media, when a heartwarming and inspiring story pops up on the news feed, the public devours it quickly.
And that's just what's happened with Cornersville catcher Luke Terry, who plays with one arm following an amputation at 19 months old.
After going viral following a Tennessean video that has since been viewed over five million times, the then 14-year old eighth-grader went on a whirlwind baseball tour that included throwing out the first pitch at a Braves game, catching the first pitch at an Orioles games, and one-on-one chats with MLB All-Stars, including Jim Abbott.
Just as the hype started to die down, Terry got a chance start last Friday against Macon County at the Unionville Classic when starting catcher Caleb Crowell was forced to sit out with a minor ankle injury.
A Macon County parent, Tony Austin, released a video of a friendís son at-bat with instructions to pay attention to Terry.
The rest, as they say, was history.
The tweet has now been retweeted over 94,000 times, liked by more than 283,000 people and the video has over 6.5 million views and counting.
The video has caught the attention of some familiar baseball names including former Braves all-star Chipper Jones and stories have appeared in USA Today, MLB.com, Fox News, The Washington Post, and even an appearance on ESPNís SportsCenter.
But one former athlete took the praise a step further.
NFL Hall of Famer and former MLB All-Star Deion Sanders tweeted, "Somebody tell me who this catcher is so I can make sure he has brand new gear for his next game. Please, please. This is incredible. And I want to meet him. #Truth."
Terry's older sister Morgan, replied to the tweet and before long Luke and "Primetime" had a conversation together.
"He said he wanted to get me all new gear and some other stuff," Luke, who has taken the sudden celebrity in stride, said. "It's been really fun and my favorite moments have probably been all the traveling I got to do and all the people I've got to meet."
One thing that people not from the small southern Marshall County town Terry attends school at quickly find out is that Terry is not out on the field as a charity case.
The freshman catcher is unbelievable at his craft on defense and can stroke the ball at the plate as evidenced by a shot deep into right field during the game against Macon County.
All this talent has come out of a lot of time on the field at an early age.
"I started catching when I was four," Terry said. "Just a lot of hard work and a lot of practice (led to the success)."
And that hard work is something that older sister Morgan noticed out of Luke from an early age.
"Iíve always known nothing would hold Luke back from something he wanted to accomplish, but I think what opened my eyes to his determination was when he was playing league ball and he started pitching," Morgan, a senior with multiple college basketball offers, remembered. "He was so determined to pitch, he put his glove at the bottom of the mound and after he would throw the pitch he would scoop his glove up and be ready to make a play. I knew then nothing could stop him."
"I am incredibly proud of him," Morgan added. "No one deserves this attention more than Luke. Everyone should see the hard work he puts in."
On the baseball diamond Terry is in the unique position to sit back and hone his craft while learning from one of the areaís best catchers in junior Caleb Crowell.
"There is definitely a difference in speed and you just have to get used to it and once he does he will be fine," Crowell offered. "And make sure you have good chemistry with your pitcher so he trusts you."
And despite being the upperclassman and a potential high level college recruit, mark Crowell as one of many in a long line of fans.
"It is definitely pretty special," Crowell admitted. "The way he gets his throws done in an efficient way is pretty crazy. I couldn't imagine doing it myself. It's definitely remarkable but it's what he has done for his whole life and he doesn't think any different of how he has to throw and he doesn't complain about having to play with one arm."
"He respects the game of baseball and I think big of him."
And as far as Luke is concerned, the feeling is mutual.
"It's nice to get to sit back and learn some more stuff from him and get to practice with him," Terry said.
With an appearance on Good Morning America on tap for Thursday morning and a Fox News crew at baseball practice on Wednesday afternoon, Luke remains cool under the constant spotlight.
"Iím just sitting back and watching Luke do his thing," Morgan laughed. "Itís awesome seeing everyone come up to him at school and tell him about all the social media sites heís on and what people are saying about him."
"Luke has always been more of the shy sibling, but I think the whole situation is bringing him out of his shell," Morgan continued. "Heís been smiling ever since. I love seeing my baby brother happy. Thereís nothing better."
Coming from a sports crazy small town that regularly places baseball players into the college ranks, Terry can expect the spotlight to be bright and the support to be bountiful over the next three and a half years.
"He definitely has the work ethic," Crowell said. "He wants to be a better baseball player and he already knows the game."
"He potential is really bright," Crowell added. "Just knowing how good he is and how hard he works, it is crazy to think he is doing it with one arm."