From polio to pitching: one man's journey

Mike Jones learned how to walk again after being diagnosed with polio when he was little. (Source: WAFF)
Mike Jones learned how to walk again after being diagnosed with polio when he was little. (Source: WAFF)

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Mike Jones is a pitcher for the North Alabama Indians Senior Baseball Adult League. He is 69 years young.

"Now at my advanced age I have moved to pitch some, because we just really needed it," said Jones. "But I grew up a shortstop and a middle infielder."

What is not evident is that Jones is a former polio patient.

"In 1948, when I was 3 years old, I was out in Arkansas visiting with my mother's family. I got sick and they told us out there, 'He probably has the flu,' so we hurried back to Alabama. [A local doctor] did a quick examination and said, 'He's got polio." 

Jones said it was quite a blow for his family. He didn't walk until the age of 5.

Now considered quite the athlete, it's ironic because at one time doctors didn't believe he would ever walk again. But they didn't know Mike's dad.

"My dad would come home from work every day at dinner and before he would leave, he would lay me down on a table and take my legs and my feet and put them all the way down and all the way back," Jones said. 

Through the tears, the paternal instinct worked, and the younger Jones escaped the withering condition.

"One leg is maybe just over a quarter of an inch shorter than the other leg... no muscle difference at all," he said.

"I was a typical polio victim, you know, so it was really a miracle that I came through it. I just slowly began to learn how to walk, just like I had already learned how when I was about a year old."

Jones said he really doesn't remember much about those two years. He remembers the before and after, but not during.  

"As soon as I was able to get my legs up and get my legs under me and get going I started playing baseball," he said. 

At age 6, he was bitten by another bug - Little League baseball. Decades later, he has no plans to slow down any time soon.

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