From car crash heroism to baseball diamond: Catcher with one arm knocks doubt out of park

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – He was only 4 years old when he lost his right arm. Now, Ege Pradke is almost 13, and he’s out on the baseball diamond pursuing his passion. On Monday, Ege played in the final game of the season, proving he can excel at a sport that he loves.

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who know Ege. He is the same boy, who, at only 4 years old, helped save his family’s lives after a catastrophic car accident.

Funda Predke (left) and Ege Predke (right) pose for a picture together, Jun 19, 2024. (Funda Predke contributed)

Head-on collision

On Columbus Day weekend in October 2015, the Pradke family, who were in the military at the time, were stationed in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They were on their way to Indiana do some volunteer work and driving down Interstate 55 when their van was hit head-on by a Jeep driving on the wrong side of the road.

Ege was the only one conscious when first responders arrived. Despite being only 4 years old, and his right arm being so badly injured that it later had to be amputated, he was able to point out each of his family members to first responders and give them their full names and information.

MORE: Boy honored for helping first responders save his family

A few months later, he was reunited with those same people who helped his family and was given a real firefighter’s helmet.

It’s been almost a decade since then, and Ege has repeatedly challenged himself and overcome the odds. “He’s been very resilient,” Funda Pradke, Ege’s mother, told Clarksville Now. “He never says, ‘I can’t do it; I only have one arm.’ He’s willing to challenge himself.”

Pradke said she has never seen her son complain or talk about how hard it is only having one arm, and that he’s always impressing others with how he accomplishes tasks. The only thing he doesn’t do is tie his shoes. Ege says “tying shoes is overrated.”

Ege Pradke (catcher) plays in his last game of the season with the Rangers at Civitan Park, June 17, 2024. (Wesley Irvin)


Baseball journey

When Ege was 7, he added a baseball helmet next to the firefighter’s helmet he was given. “I told him that it would be very challenging,” Pradke said.

Two seasons ago, Ege asked his mom if he could be the catcher, and she was hesitant to agree, worried it would be too much for him to manage. Then, without his mother knowing, he spoke to his head coach and started training. He hasn’t complained once about the challenge of catching with one arm. He does it by making the catch, dropping the glove with the ball in it, then quickly picking up the ball from the glove to return the throw.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Pradke said. “Seeing him (Ege) jump into everything that he wants to do without seeing it as a challenge, he’s proof that if you want to do something and you put the work in, it’s possible.”

Ege practices tirelessly. At first, it was just at team practice, but after two years of playing, he got more serious. Pradke said her son started grabbing his glove and ball and asking for his parents to come and throw with him to help him practice. With school out for the summer, there have been times she’s watched Ege go outside around 7 a.m. and set up his tee and net to practice hitting.

Ege Pradke (catcher) plays in his last game of the season with the Rangers at Civitan Park, June 17, 2024. (Wesley Irvin)

Set aside the excuses

From early morning hitting to late night team practices, Ege has shown he is willing to put in the work and improve as he pursues his passion in baseball.

“I’ve had a lot of fun this season catching and being the starting catcher for my team,” Ege told Clarksville Now. “Especially being in the heat every day. And being trusted by my coach to play exhausting, hot games during the day.”

His mother believes Ege is stronger with only one arm, and it makes him a better player.  Baseball isn’t his only sport, however. He also plays football with his friends, basketball, and even plays the trumpet in the Rossview Middle School band.

Ege said he hopes others can learn from his story and change their can’ts’ to cans.

“If you say you can’t do it, then don’t even try,” Ege said. “You can only do something if you believe.”

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