This story originally appeared in the June 1, 1994 edition of the Wilmington Town Crier.
After the birth of their first son, the last thing Michael and Lisa Ellsworth wanted to hear from the doctor was that their new child would never be able to walk, talk or do anything else.
Michael junior, surely proved the doctors wrong.
Michael, now ten years old, was diagnosed with left hemiplegic – who is described as being unable to use the left side of your body – when he was born. With a lot of hard work and determination, he was able to overcome the obstacles that stood against him. He is now using every moment of the day to play the sport he loves, baseball, for the Wilmington Minor League Giants.
Immediately after his birth, Michael’s parents put him in physiotherapy and occupational therapy treatment and what started out as rolling like a toddler instead of crawling turned into basic belt shots at the waist. left field.
Even now, Michael is still undergoing the different types of therapy. Every evening at 5:45 am, he checks off the 18 stretching and movement exercises he must do. Whether it’s just stretching a strained wrist muscle or picking up a pencil off the floor, he follows the same routine every night. Every Monday he has his own physiotherapist who comes to his house to work with him for an hour.
“He’s come a long way,” Lisa said. “He is very determined and the family are so proud of what he has accomplished.”
Michael received a lot of help from his family and friends. Her brother Danny, who is seven, was a big help. Whether it was helping her with her household chores or just being a sibling, the two have been very close.
“I’m so proud of the two boys, they are really awesome,” Lisa said. “They are really great kids. Of course, they have their struggles and their interests just like everyone else, but they help and help each other a lot,” their father added.
Michael’s best friend is Timmy Hogg, who has been there for him since day one. He helps him carry his books, holds the door and always supports and encourages him during his baseball games. Timmy was also the one who showed Michael how to ride a bike.
“Timmy is really nice to me. He shows me how to do a lot of things. All of my friends have helped me, ”said Michael.
Michael has already defined and achieved a number of his goals and dreams. Once, while at the doctor’s office, the doctor asked him if there was anything he would like to do? Michael replied that he would like to tie his shoes one day. He has already achieved this goal, along with many others he never thought he could accomplish, including playing the baseball he loves so much.
One of his other dreams is to one day meet Jim Abbott, the former California Angels and New York Yankees left-handed pitcher, who throws and catches without a right hand.
“Michael would be tickled pink if he ever met (Abbott) one day,” Lisa said.
Michael would also like to one day follow in Abbott’s footsteps and be able to pitch.
“He practiced pitching,” his father said. “He’s really determined and challenged to do it. With a little more arm strength and a little more practice, maybe he could do it.”
Michael is a first baseman and he plays occasionally in the outfield. He catches with his right hand, then flips his glove over his elbow to throw right handed. He also beats right-handed. He uses an open position where his whole body is facing the pitcher, then he discharges by swinging the bat with one hand. So far it has worked for him and he has continued to improve hitting the ball – for more and more hits.
“I’m very impressed with Michael’s will and determination,” said Giants coach Eddie Collins. “He’s a great, super nice kid who isn’t afraid of anything.”
Michael’s grandfather Nelson Ellsworth added: “He’s a very determined kid. He’s not afraid of the ball. He learns a lot. He’s done really well.”
Not only does Michael excel as a young boy and as a baseball player, he also does well in school, with good grades. Her mother credits much of her success to the teachers and guidance counselors at Woburn Street School.
“They were the best,” she said. “They’ve worked really hard with him. I give them a lot of credit for that.”
Even with the difficulty and frustration of not being able to do certain things, Michael is starting to understand his condition better and this has helped his confidence.
“I’m used to (going to therapy), it’s easy,” he said.
Although he played youth soccer last year and plays football and street hockey with his friends, baseball remains Michael’s favorite sport.
We asked him what he liked most about it?
“Hitting home runs,” he replied.
And the hardest part?
“Do the stretches at first base.”
The town crier contacted Ellsworth, who has lived in Woburn for 16 years and has been employed by Lucci’s Supermarket in Wilmington since 2001. He was asked if he had continued to play baseball after that 1994 season with the Giants.
“I continued to play until the end of eighth grade,” he said. “The older I got the worse my offense got, but on first base my defense was great. I was going to try freshman football in high school, but during the physical exam it was found out I had Osgood Schlatters (disease), which is an extra bump on my right knee (caused by swelling and irritation of the growth plate at the top of the tibia). I still have it to this day. I chose not to play football and sports together so that I could focus on my homework. I was pretty much an average B student. I ended up graduating from high school in 2001 at the age of 17, and I was one of the youngest in my class. “
Ellsworth was asked what he remembered playing for the Giants at the minor league level before moving up to the higher levels, including playing for the White Sox at the major league level.
“My best memories of little league baseball are first of all my teammates, my team’s action on the field and their great defensive play. I always remember jumping high to catch a catch or turn a double. Game.”
It’s been almost 25 years since Ellsworth played for Bob Gage and the White Sox, and Gage said he had a conversation with him that he will always remember.
“In my 33 years as a coach, Mike has been one of my most memorable draft picks,” said Gage. “I will always remember how excited he and his mom were when I called him to tell him he made the Major League White Sox. That’s really what youth athletic training should be – delivering good memories to everyone.
“Mike worked really hard and stayed after practice to work on his bat control. He never had any problems with his roster. Mike came from a very nice family. Two years later I drafted. his younger brother Danny. “
Mike was asked about those days today, playing without his left hand.
“I never really thought about my left hand situation. I just focused on my job, like Bill Belichick says,” Ellsworth said with a laugh. “Yes, it took me half a second or a second longer to get the ball where it needed to be, but I did! None of my teammates complained and neither did I. were all there to have fun first and like I said let’s do our job. “