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‘UnPHILtered’: Baseball pitcher who lost 2 fingers commits to play in college

Learning to throw the knuckleball

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) – A baseball player has not let a lawn-mowing accident derail his dreams.

Jason Johnson is a left-handed pitcher who turned his biggest obstacle, losing two of his fingers on his throwing hand, into his biggest weapon on the baseball field.

“I was 5 years old. I fell off a lawnmower, and there was no blade on it, and it took off my ring and my pinky fingers” Johnson said. 

Johnson’s mother, Marie Johnson, says she remembers the accident as clear as day.

“He was LifeLined (flown by helicopter) to Peyton Manning’s Children’s Hospital, and it was really hard for him. One week later, he was out on the baseball field. He told me he had to be on the baseball field. And, he had to do everything right-handed.” Marie said.

Jason eventually went back to throwing left-handed and what followed were years of perseverance, grit and an unwavering love for a game that, like life, will humble anyone in a heartbeat. 

About overcoming adversity, Jason said, “Just like blocking everything out and focusing on myself, like learning to do things my own way, and getting over the small, little issues and not let it go past me. Just keep looking forward and being grateful.” 

Jason eventually taught himself how to throw a knuckleball, arguably one of the toughest pitches to master and, if done right, one of the hardest to hit.

“I can’t really throw a changeup like people can with five fingers because to throw a changeup in baseball you need five fingers. So, I was trying to find things that could work for me as an alternate, and it had some unique movement to it, with the way … with the spin the way my fingers are,” he said

Not too long after, colleges took notice. Jason recently committed to play baseball at Trine University in Angola, in the northeast corner of Indiana.

Jason said, “There’s always going to be challenges you go through, but, no matter what, you just have to believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything you want to do.”

He says he plans on studying mechanical engineering at Trine in the fall, and hopes his story can help inspire others who might be also be facing adversity.

Good luck, Jason. I’ll be pulling for you.