Playing Game Of Baseball With A Metal Leg

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Third baseman Daren Manheimer of Clark College is a remarkable athlete who plays the game without a lower right leg.

“I lost my right leg below the knee when I was in my mom’s womb,” said Manheimer.

“I had a condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome.”

Small bands of the amniotic sac wrapped around his leg so it wasn’t able to develop properly because of the lack of blood circulation. At birth, he didn’t have a lower right leg.

Manheimer explained that his parents never treated him differently than his twin brother Gavin growing up. Gavin was born with two normal legs.

“Gavin and I played baseball together from the age of six all the way through high school. He went to Centralia Community College and played baseball there. Now Gavin is in Nebraska playing at the NAIA level.

“Gavin pushed me on the field probably more than most people because he was my brother. It is a love-hate relationship. We each try to be the best we can be in everything and competition comes into play.

“My mom (Leslie) told me that when I was really young, I would look down at Gavin’s legs and count, ‘one-two’. Then I would look at mine and say, ‘one’ because I only had one foot and my brother had two. That was hard for my mom to deal with because she didn’t know what to say when I did that.

“She didn’t want to tell me that I wasn’t like everybody else. Having one leg has never affected my drive to be the best baseball player I could be.

“I just went out there and was a kid. I didn’t know any better. I was going to school and having fun hanging out with my friends. There was nothing that held me back in my mind.

“When it came to walking and learning how to run and do daily stuff, I didn’t look into adapting. I just did what I knew, and it felt right.”

His first memory of being involved in baseball was when he was 4-5 years old.

“I was watching my cousin play baseball and how much fun he was having on the field. He was hitting and pitching and having a blast. I loved the atmosphere.

“After the game, I took my dad Ian out to the field, and I threw a pitch from the mound because I wanted to throw a baseball.

“After that, I wanted to be a part of this special game, and I have had a burning desire to play it.

“My dad signed me up for Little League, and that’s how I started playing baseball. Everything I did was natural and was the only thing I knew. I didn’t have to learn a different way.

“I started a year before my twin brother. But he was always there to help me. My dad was my coach all through Little League until high school.”

Manheimer, who is in his fourth year of college but has used only one year of baseball eligibility, explained the different type of prosthetic legs that are available.

“There are high end athletic styles which are the blade type which runners utilize.

“You also see basic prosthetic legs which people wear with a foot on the bottom. They are similar in size to a normal leg and foot so they fill up the pant leg as the artificial foot is in a shoe.

“It is your standard walking leg. That’s what I had at first which was a standard walking leg that wasn’t too fancy.

“So I had to play baseball with that because that’s all I knew and was the only thing I had.

“In high school, that is when I got my first athletic style prosthetic leg which is the blade style. That is the one I am currently wearing called the Cheetah Xplore by Ӧssur.

“This style allows you to be more agile and is lighter weight than the basic prosthetic leg.

“It allows me to be much more athletic in baseball than I used to be.”

The bottom of the blade has a heel which allows Daren to wear a baseball shoe with cleats.

The bottom of the blade also is split which helps with his agility in running, fielding balls and hitting as he pushes off the blade.

To read more of this article, purchase the April 9, 2021 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.