When Greg Hauck joined Cal Ripken's youth baseball league in the Baltimore area 12 years ago, the Orioles legend noticed the then 6-year-old's immobile right arm and encouraged him to look up Jim Abbott -- the famed one-handed Major Leaguer.
Now, as a North County (Glen Burnie, Md.) High senior, Hauck matched Abbott's greatest career accomplishment -- albeit at the prep level -- pitching a no-hitter despite an injury at birth that limited the use of his right arm.
Hauck's incredible journey from nearly having his arm amputated as a child to preseason All-State recognition from Maryland's baseball coaches association is detailed in a magnificent feature by The Washington Post's Brandon Parker.
Hauck struck out 10 and didn't surrender a hit over five innings in a 17-0, mercy-rule win over rival Southern (Harwood, Md.) High on Monday. Also an outfielder, he's batting .500 with five RBI, four stolen bases and three runs scored in his team's 8-2 start.
“From the beginning, I could tell what type of athlete Gregg was and he’s never let his (birth) injury be a factor,” North County baseball coach Wayne Feuerherd told The Post. “It’s there, but once people find out, they are always amazed because you can’t really tell, and he’s still become one of the county’s best all-around athletes.”
Indeed, Hauck amassed 16 goals and seven assists in leading the Knights' boys soccer squad to a county title this past fall, capturing First Team All-Met honors from The Post and a scholarship from the University of Maryland Baltimore County along the way.
Obviously, baseball was the bigger obstacle for the 18-year-old phenom. He hesitated to take up the sport, and when he did, Hauck got some strange reactions from umpires as well as opposing parents and fans, as detailed in Parker's fantastic piece.
“I had second thoughts about playing high school baseball because I was afraid people were going to make fun of me,” Hauck explained to the paper. “But my soccer coach told me to at least try it out so I would know what it was like and not regret my decision. I gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did because I would have regretted not playing.”
Same goes for the Falcons, who are reportedly off to their best start in five seasons, and every other 1-in-1,000 child who faces the same affliction. Just as Abbott inspired so many, Hauck, who has worked hard to increase motion in his right arm after almost losing it at birth, told The Post he plans to study physical therapy at UMBC.