Fifteen-year-old Landis Sims lives his life with a motto: “Just watch me.”
On Sunday, plenty of people “just watched” Sims take the field at Petco Park and play catch with Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove.
Musgrove was easy to spot — he’s 6-foot-5-inches tall and is one of the best players on one of Major League Baseball’s best teams.
Sims was also easy to spot. He was the only one on the field with two prosthetic legs and no hands. You see, the Indiana teenager was born with no hands and no legs below his knees.
“It’s incredible man,” Musgrove told NBC 7 when asked about playing catch with Sims. “He’s at a clear disadvantage from other ballplayers, but he understands the situation that he’s in and that he’s going to be limited in certain areas, but he’s quite impressive.”
This was not Musgrove’s first interaction with Sims. As a young, aspiring baseball player, Sims was fortunate enough to forge relationships with various MLB players, including Musgrove. Through the years, the Grossmont High School alum texted with Sims, met him to share and teach baseball techniques and just be there to talk when needed.
Despite his disability, Sims has played baseball against able-bodied kids since T-ball. That was followed by little league and now high school baseball.
Musgrove is amazed by the progress Sims has made as a player.
“The guy’s mindset is stronger than anybody I’ve ever met. He’s a smart kid, very coachable,” Musgrove said. “I’ve worked with him a handful of times. The adjustments he’s made is impressive.”
Playing catch with Musgrove on the field pre-game was just one of the highlights of Sims’ day. The Padres and Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) teamed up to make this a special day for Landis.
After arriving at Petco Park at 10 a.m. Sunday, wearing a Musgrove 44 jersey, the Padres gifted Sims a brown Padres hat then escorted him upstairs to a suite inside Petco Park.
There, CAF presented Sims with a limited edition pair of Fernando Tatis Jr. sunglasses. The specific model wasn’t even available to the public at the time. The glasses, called the “Tatis 23 Limited Edition,” are a collaboration between the Padres star shortstop and 100%, a company that makes sports gear. The Tatis-inspired glasses will be available for public purchase on Monday.
Just before slipping the gold sunglasses on his face, Sims called Tatis Jr. “one of his favorite players.”
The star treatment was just getting started, because then Padres Chief Executive Officer Erik Greupner walked in and presented Sims with an honorary contract, making Sims a Padre for the day. Landis called the contract, “amazing.”
After signing the contract, Sims made his way down to the field to meet Musgrove for a game of catch.
Sims fit right in on the major league field. Despite having no hands, he expertly caught and threw the ball back and forth with Musgrove. Using a specially made piece of equipment on his wrist to hold his glove in place, Simsis able to catch the ball, then do a few quick maneuvers and throw the ball with the help of his glove.
We’re not talking about a toss of just a few feet; Sims was just inside first base, while Musgrove was near home plate — the game of catch covered almost 80 feet.
After playing catch, Musgrove gave Sims a few pointers, then they chatted and made plans to meet up soon.
When asked which was the favorite part of his day, Sims sighed, smiled and said, “Well, they’re all equally great, but if I had to choose I’d say signing the contract.”
While Sims was making his way through his Padre dream day, his mom, Amanda, was never far off, smiling with pride the whole time.
Amanda Sims calls her son a “game-changer.”
“Twenty, 30 years ago, a kid that wanted to play baseball, even if he was missing one hand or one leg would’ve been a huge deal, but here Landis is missing both hands and both feet and really changing what baseball looks,” she said.
“The acceptance that the game looks like different than it did 20 years ago, and there is a place for somebody that has a passion for the game no matter what they look like physically,” she added.
Asked for her favorite part of the day, mom said, “Anytime I get to see him throw, to a mom’s heart, that’s what the best thing is.”
Sims is entering his sophomore year at South Central High School in Indiana. Besides baseball, Sims also plays on the school basketball team.
He’s had a camera crew following him for much of his life and documenting his push to play sports. The documentary “Just Watch Me” is expected to be released soon.
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