Bedingfield: My favorite player, Lefty Brewer

From Gary Bedingfield at The National Pastime Museum on December 30, 2013:

When I first started researching ballplayers who served in the military during World War II, I stumbled upon a little-known fellow named Lefty Brewer. Lefty had enjoyed a successful career pitching in the minors during the late 1930s but never made it to the big leagues. The war saw to that. 

Lefty lost his life fighting for his country. For that, and many other things, he has become my hero and my all-time favorite player. We will never know how often he reflected on his baseball career during those final days of his life. Perhaps it went something like this:

Dropping his ball glove to the ground and kneeling down to tie the laces on his paratrooper jump boots, Lefty Brewer looked up at the crowd in the stands and then at his fellow paratrooper infielders. Briefly, his mind drifted back to the summer of 1938 – six years earlier – when the smell of roasted peanuts had filled the air, and this tall, slender 19-year-old left-handed pitcher had unleashed a season of blistering fastballs on his way to a 25-win rookie season as a professional baseball player.

Returning to his feet and wiping a sweaty palm on his khaki pants, Lefty realized that only the game remained the same. No longer was he pitching for the St. Augustine Saints in the Florida State League, and no longer were his teammates eager young men hoping to get a shot at the big leagues. This day was May 28, 1944, and Lefty was in England, dressed in his paratrooper fatigues because that is all he had, pitching for the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment before an enthusiastic crowd of 7,000 who were more accustomed to watching soccer, rugby or cricket.

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Originally published: December 30, 2013. Last Updated: December 30, 2013.