Byrd earns historic at-bat

Published 11:52 am Monday, February 19, 2024

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It’s been a historic week for East Carolina baseball player Parker Byrd.
His long road back from a boating accident on Bath Creek in July of 2022 that cost him part of his right leg and almost his life was the subject of a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, then five days later he became the first NCAA Division I student-athlete to play in a game with a prosthetic leg.

Byrd made his debut as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Friday’s 16-2 victory over Rider in front of a Clark-LeClair Opening Day record crowd of 5,221 fans who provided a thunderous ovation. Following a first-pitch strike, Byrd drew four-straight balls to reach base.

“It is one of the proudest moments I have ever had as a coach,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin told the media after the game. “And he’s going to get some more. He has worked his tail off it was super emotional. The umpire behind home plate told me later when I was making a change; he has been an umpire for 17-18 years and it is the coolest moment he has ever been a part of.”
Byrd, a Laurinburg native who endured 22 surgeries in 45 days and endured a rigorous rehab that is ongoing, was also emotional when he stepped into the batter’s box.

“I mean chill bumps man,” Byrd told the media after the game, “This crowd, these people, my family, my teammates, coaches I really could not be more thankful and blessed. It is really the people along the way that have helped me. God above has been looking out for me the whole time and I just couldn’t be more blessed to be in the opportunity I am today.”