Dickson: Baseball’s Purple Heart game

From SABR member Paul Dickson at The National Pastime Museum on January 9, 2014:

“Hero” is a term that has lost a lot of its true meaning in recent decades because it is often applied indiscriminately to those who are simply talented or hard-working. Lou Brissie, who suffered devastating leg wounds in World War II and who went on to become an All-Star pitcher with the Philadelphia Athletics, was a true hero. He died on November 25 at a veteran’s hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, at 89. 

National Pastime Museum executive director Frank Ceresi knew Brissie as well other baseball players who defended the nation in combat, such as Ted Williams, Warren Spahn and Bob Feller. Shortly after Brissie’s death Ceresi said, “These were giants of their day — warriors on the ball field and the battlefield. Real men. Of all these heroes, I must say that Lou Brissie was one of the real special ones, with a ferocious spirit that helped him survive but gentle as can be. A gentleman and real hero but never ever one to brag.” Ceresi added, “I would like to thank Paul for letting me express my feeling toward my friend Lou Brissie. He may be in a better place now, but his influence and spirit will be with us forever.”

Perhaps the best way to honor Brissie’s memory and the memory of those in the most elite baseball league of all — disabled, determined and courageous players — is to flash back to a game played May 18, 1948, when Cleveland Indians rookie pitcher Gene Bearden was scheduled to make his third start of the season. He was set to pitch against the Philadelphia Athletics at Cleveland Stadium in the first night game of the year for the Indians. The opposing pitcher would be Brissie. The two had never met before.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/baseballs-purple-heart-game

Originally published: January 9, 2014. Last Updated: January 9, 2014.