Carson Robinson wasn’t sure what amount of success he would find on the mound during his debut season of varsity baseball.
But there has been a lot to like for the Stockbridge (Mich.) High School freshman this spring.
There are the eight pitching victories that he’s picked up on the mound. There’s an ERA that has been below 1.00 most of the season. And there’s also the 81 strikeouts he’s racked up, which is among the top totals in the Lansing area and includes games with 15 and 13 punchouts.
And all that success for Robinson has come despite the odds being stacked against him.
Robinson was born without a left hand. And he’s been determined to not let that stop him from having success on the diamond, the basketball court, football field or anything else.
“The way I look at is I don’t see myself different from anybody,” said Robinson, who also was one of the top scorers on Stockbridge’s freshman basketball team and played fullback and quarterback for the Panther junior varsity football squad.
“I don’t look at it like (I’m different). I know my opponents will. I just don’t act like I’m different than anybody – that’s what has kept me going. I just act like a normal kid and do what I do out there.”
Robinson, who plays first base when he isn’t pitching and is one of Stockbridge’s top offensive players, learned to adapt at an early age. His parents, Chris and Jeanette, said the determination has always been there for Robinson, who was one of the first among his peers to be able to tie his shoes and zip up his jacket.
And there also seemed to be a natural love and talent for baseball.
“He’s just a very determined kid. I don’t see a lot of people like it. He can go to a game and play and if he feels like he didn’t do well enough, he’ll come home and hit balls off a tee. He’s just always working, always grinding.”
It was that work ethic and mentality that helped Robinson master the intricacies of being a one-handed baseball player. Robinson gradually learned the art of throwing and exchanging his glove from his left forearm to right hand when he was younger by bouncing balls off walls and garage doors. Tips his parents received from Flint native and former major leaguer Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, also were beneficial for Robinson at a younger age.
There’s also been plenty of time spent studying YouTube videos of Abbott, whose success at the University of Michigan and in the majors has served as one of the main inspirations for Robinson in his continued quest to defy the odds. Abbott spent 10 seasons as a starting pitcher in the majors and threw a no-hitter in 1993 while playing for the New York Yankees.
“He’s my biggest inspiration,” Robinson said. “That’s really what pushes me to get better and keeps me going. He made it that far and I kind of want to follow in his footsteps.”
Robinson believes he’s on the right track toward doing that. He’s played high-level travel ball since he was 11 and had success against other talented players. And he will spend this summer playing with the Indiana-based EvoShield Canes.
And the promise he’s shown on the field this spring has also been encouraging.
“I knew that he would really help us out as a freshman coming in,” Chris Robinson said. “I didn’t know he would be throwing lights-out like he has been. I knew he was a good pitcher and a good hitter, but he’s still young. He’s still a freshman and they make freshman mistakes. He hasn’t seemed to make too many this year. He’s hitting his spots and he’s keeping people off balance. He’s just really doing a fantastic job.”