On Oct. 26, 2017, Taylor Wilson was making spaghetti for dinner. That food ended up on the stove for weeks and is a dish Wilson can’t fathom eating again.
As dusk fell that day, Landon Wilson, Taylor’s 18-year-old son, went on a run from his Haywood County home. At 6-6 and about 210 pounds, Taylor was a promising right-handed senior pitcher for the Haywood High Tomcats. He had already garnered some interest from some small colleges and had dedicated himself to offseason training to improve his stock.
With dinner ready to go as darkness fell, Taylor began to realize his son had been gone longer than he should have. Taylor walked out onto the porch and saw blue lights on a hill down the road. Taylor and his wife jumped into the family truck and headed toward the lights.
“Start praying now,” Taylor said to his wife.
When Taylor arrived on the scene, first responders were surrounding a small pickup truck and trailer. When Taylor got to Landon, he saw that Landon’s left arm was hanging by a thread and his right leg was severely injured after being hit by the truck.
Taylor remembers Landon saying, “This is all so surreal.”
Landon was transported to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis and his parents followed. When he returned home weeks later to check on the house, the spaghetti was still there.
“Have you ever eaten something and got sick and never really wanted to eat it again?” Taylor said. “Preparing spaghetti is like that with me now.”
That night was kind of a blur for Taylor, but he vividly remembers one thing his son said to a doctor: “Look, just leave enough for me to hold a glove.”
Taylor, an English teacher at Covington High School and retired journalist, published a book last year that details his son’s accident and miraculous recovery. It’s called Glove Letters and is presented as a series of 29 letters to his son.
The story of Landon, who is now a 22-year-old senior at Mississippi State, has a happy ending.
Five months after the accident, Landon was back on the mound for the Tomcats. Holding his glove with a partial prosthetic left arm, Landon went undefeated as a starter and helped the Tomcats advance to the Class AA sectionals.
There have been other one-armed pitchers. Jim Abbott is probably the most famous one. He pitched in the Major Leagues for 10 years, but he was born without a right hand.
“The thing most impressive about Landon’s story, and I know I’m his dad, is that he had to learn to do it in five months,” Taylor said. “The bones in his leg had not even grown back together. He just said, ‘I’m coming back.'”
The book, which is available on Amazon and Taylor’s website, is not the typical book written by a parent. Wilson, who wrote for The Jackson Sun and Bill Dance Publishing during his 20-plus-year journalism career, interweaves quotes from Bruce Springsteen, To Kill a Mockingbird, Bull Durham and Simon and Garfunkel to highlight the journey he and his son traveled together.
Several college coaches have read Glove Letters and have been inspired by it.
Tim Corbin, the head baseball coach at Vanderbilt University, said, ““I was attached to Landon and his mission, the day his dad shared his unique story with me. What a wonderful spirit this young man has for life, for people, for challenges and the game of baseball. Taylor is kind enough to share his son’s wonderful passion and perseverance with us all. I love this young man and his journey.”
Daron Schoenrock, the University of Memphis head baseball coach, said, “This is very eloquently described by his father … Landon’s love for baseball, nurtured through the rehabilitation process and loving relationship between a father and his son, creates the epic true story of the champion of the comeback.”
Taylor probably summed up the experience best at the end of chapter two: “Few leave this world without being roughed up. I guess the best we can expect is that our seams hold tight as we’re tossed and knocked around. Of course, having the heart of a lion doesn’t hurt one’s cause, either.”