“Arms are for pussies.”
A lot can be established about how great of an American you are by the nickname you’re able to earn. Andrew Jackson was called “Old Hickory” because he beat the shit out of people with a hickory cane. Hawkeye on M*A*S*H got his nickname due to a book that, though we’ve not read because, come on, we assume has to be about killing Indians since it’s called “The Last of the Mohicans.” Lou Gehrig was called “The Iron Horse” because that’s just fucking awesome.
We here at AFFotD try, with limited success, to fashion appropriately badass American nicknames. One of our staff writers just goes by “Hood” because he wears a hood over his head every day, which is sort of annoying, but the name stuck at least. One of our accountants tried to get people to call him Fucksaw, but that never caught on. Kiefer Sutherland only goes by the nickname “Jack fucking Bauer” and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
And when it comes to nicknames, and Americans, few top that of Gary “Bandit” Mays, a man who managed to get the awesome nickname normally only reserved for Burt Reynolds without having ever played professional sports. Of course, this two sport athlete, who went toe-to-toe with Elgin Baylor, was a top prep star catcher who was a finalist for finalist for Washington D.C.’s best baseball prep star of the year, was unable to find luck in the big leagues, due to the prejudices of the world in the 1950’s. As a black man, he was subjugated and unable to show his potential to the world.
He also had only one fucking arm, but trust us when we say that racial prejudice was the only thing that held him back.
Gary Mays is what comes to mind when we use the Germanic term, “Badass.” After losing his left arm in a shotgun accident at the age of five, Mays decided, “fuck it,” and went about being the best all around athlete he could be. He remains a folk figure to this day in Washington D.C., where he still resides. This is the man that guarded a future hall-of-fame Basketball star in high school, and held him to just 18 points to help his team win. And basketball wasn’t even his best sport. He was a baseball phenom. While there has been a one armed professional ballplayer in the past (Jim Abbott, respect) he was a pitcher, which requires far less fielding, batting, and other things people generally assume you’d need two hands for.
Gary Mays, deciding that pitching was for chumps, decided to be a catcher. A fucking catcher. Not only was he a catcher, he was a good one- in his senior year in high school, he batted .375, threw out every base runner that tried to steal on him, and had no errors. With one arm. Holy shit.
He ended up turning down invitations to join the Harlem Globetrotters, deciding he didn’t want to be paraded around like a freak show, and when he went to a scouting camp for Major League baseball, despite hitting the only home run in the camp (yeah, that’s right, with one arm) and being named the MVP of the entire session, he did not receive any offers from major league teams. And so, all we are left with are the stories of a man with one arm who gets more use out of it than most of us get out of our whole bodies.