RAMAT GAN, Israel — Dave Blackburn beamed triumphantly, surrounded by a crowd of American athletes and cheering spectators. It was like old times, the great pitcher basking in applause.
But Blackburn wasn’t being ushered off the field with a championship trophy in hand as he was after leading the US softball team to gold medals in four earlier Maccabiah Games.
Instead, Blackburn maneuvered his wheelchair down an aisle to the front of a reception hall last month after being named one of 10 athletes to carry the US contingent’s banner onto the field for the opening ceremony of the games.
The selection may have constituted Blackburn’s ultimate athletic triumph — part acknowledgment of the outsized contribution he has made to the quadrennial Jewish athletic competition, part gratitude for surviving a gruesome car accident in 2010 that took part of his right leg, broke 27 bones, put him in a coma for two months and ended his softball career.