HOUSTON -- Buddy Lamothe, the pitcher who was paralyzed in a diving accident shortly before he was drafted by the Astros in June, was presented with a new wheelchair-accessible van on Saturday afternoon as a gift from owner Drayton McLane and the Astros In Action Foundation.
The Astros selected Lamothe in the 40th round of the First-Year Player Draft out of San Jacinto College in Houston earlier this year and had him throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a game last month. The team surprised Lamothe by presenting him with the van outside Minute Maid Park.
"It's hard to actually make me surprised, but this one got to me," Lamothe said.
Astros general manager Ed Wade, manager Brad Mills and players Clint Barmes, David Carpenter, Mark Melancon, Sergio Escalona, Fernando Rodriguez and Bud Norris were on hand to help with the presentation of the van to Lamothe. McLane was out of town, but he told MLB.com via phone how important it was to help Lamothe.
"It's exciting for the Astros to reach out to someone that experienced hardship just a few weeks ago," he said. "We had him throw out a first pitch a few weeks ago, and I got to meet him and his mother and his girlfriend and sister. I just saw their courage and I asked his mother what the most difficult part was, and she said mobility.
"They go to therapy every day, and did not have a way to get around town. They had to take taxis and other very expensive means. We decided to buy a van for him and presented it to him. We hope it helps his mobility and helps him regain his health."
Lamothe had a 0.77 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings pitched for San Jacinto in 2011, and was on the Astros' Draft board prior to getting injured. He helped guide Lyndon Institute to the 2009 Division II State Championship, and had a fastball that ranged between 92 mph and 95 mph and a breaking ball in the high 80s.
He's undergoing daily therapy in an effort to regain full use of his arms and upper body. Thanks to the Astros, getting to therapy will be much easier.
"It's great," Lamothe said. "It's going to help me recover a lot. Being stuck at home, I can only do so much, and being given this van is going to help me a lot in my progress in my treatment and my rehabilitation. I can finally get out of the house and go do things with friends. Before it was tough, not being able to get in a vehicle. But this is unbelievable. I couldn't believe they would go this far. It's great. It's something you would never expect. It's a great gift."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.