Bert Shepard is back in Washington, going on 60 -- and going like 60 on two good legs, so what if the right one is artificial below the knee? And, so to speak, pitching again.
In 1945, it was Boston Red Sox batters, and Shepard southpawed 'em down with three hits and one run in 5-1/3 innings. It was mere months since the amputation by German doctors and repatriation from an eight-month stay in a prison camp after his P-38 had been shot down on his 34th mission with the 55th Fighter Group.
Lt. Bert Shepard, a minor-leaguer when he enlisted in the Army, came to Walter Reed Hospital here with his heart set on resuming his baseball career. In March 1945, the Senators -- training at College Park what with wartime travel restrictions -- enlisted outpatient Shepard for a tryout. The nation watched, via movie newsreels; the guy with the brand-new wooden leg was a celebrity.
He was signed as a Nat coach under Manager Ossie Bluege while still in service, touring hospitals for the Army (eventually he did the piloting himself on flying tours). In July, after an effective start against the Brooklyn Dodgers in a war charity exhibition, he was placed on the Senators' active list. He made the most of his one chance, but the war was winding down, the regulars were returning and he never appeared in another Nats box score; when the season -- and WW II -- ended, the Senators sent him to Chattanooga.
There followed several years in the minors as pitcher, first baseman, manager. Eventually, he settled in California, into industry. f
Now Shepard's pitch is directed at Uncle Sam, who so eagerly used to deploy him to inspire fellow amputees. Billeted at Andrews AFB, he has been making the rounds of the federal agencies, trying to sell his expertise and services in rehabilitation.
Further, Shepard lately has invented a prosthetic ankle adjustment that provides amazing flexibility. He demonstrates by swiftly pacing without hint of a limp.
"I routinely play a round of golf in 2-1/2 hours," says Shepard, national amputee golf champ in 1968 and '71. "Walking every step of the way. Sometimes I go on and play 36 holes" . . .
Martina Navratilova is No. 1 again, says the women's Tennis Association. Short stay for Tracy Austin, who leapfrogged to the top on April 8 but passed up last week's Amelia Island, Fla., tour stop while Navy won it and counterleapfrogged, 16.522 rating to 16.406. . .
The patient Atlanta Braves have further extended to Sunday the deadline for slumping slugger Bob Horner to report to Richmond -- but the spoiled br--er, Horner's agent, Bucky Woy, declares the club can stretch the deadline "until Christmas" and his client won't go to the minors. "Trade me/him/us," chorus Horner and Woy, in the face of the no-trade contract they wheedled out of Ted Turner in better days. . .
Herb Williams, Ohio State's 6-foot-10 junior pride, convened a Columbus news conference yesterday to say, see you next year -- he'll round out four Buckeye years rather than going NBA now . . . Jim Lynam beats John Thompson: St. Joseph's coach by way of AU has landed heralded, Georgetown-pursued, 6-11 Tony Costner from Wilt Chamberlain's alma mater in Philly, Overbrook High . . . Boston U. signed Felicia Polyanski, 6-2 all-met at Crossland, for women's basketball. Just wait till sister Paula Polyanski, 6-4 and a 10th-grader, grows up. . .
GU not only has Frank Herzog to emcee the fourth annual Hoya hoop banquet Tuesday, Sheraton National in Arlington, but a new soccer coach: Scott Strasburg, 24, former Bucknell athlete who spent 1977 on the Cosmos' roster and served more recent NASL time with Colorado and Atlanta . . . The Diplomats and Metropolitan Police Boys & Girls Clubs of D.C. have a nice thing going -- rather coming: newly established Joseph B. Danzansky Soccer League for youngsters. Dip vets Gary Darrell and Eric Martin will administer and monitor its formative stages. . .
NASL's defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps paid a bundle but exult that newly acquired Dutch defender Rudi Krol (twice captain of Holland's World Cup team) is "one of the top three players on this earth." Right, Johan and Wim?. . . But as Krol comes over for three years, Cosmos star Franz Beckenbauer is saying he just might skip back to West Germany after this NASL season. "I will probably make some decision in May or June, but I can tell you there is absolutely nothing the Cosmos can do to influence my decision," says Der Kaiser. He has two kicks about soccer in America: "the artificial turf and the travel. The long trips around the country, the tours, they're killing me" . . .
Full circle to Walter Reed: the hospital's sports director, Bill Gray, coaches the Military All-Stars who play the football Redskins in basketball tonight at Washington-Lee High, Arlington, 7:30.