Lou Brissie: Despair and triumph of a soldier and player

From Benjamin Hoffman at the New York Times on October 25, 2012:

The stories of baseball players who left the game to go to war often focus on what they lost by being away. Ted Williams and Willie Mays forfeited a shot at challenging Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs. Bob Feller, the greatest pitcher of his era, lost his chance at 300 victories.

But in a certain respect, those star players got off easy, because they were able to return to their sport in good health. Lou Brissie, a left-handed pitching prospect from South Carolina, was less fortunate.

Having drawn the attention of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, Brissie put baseball aside to enlist in the United States Army after World War II broke out. He ended up with a serious wound that threatened to demolish every dream he had of playing in the major leagues. And yet, in a remarkable story of determination, he went from the brink of having his left leg amputated in an Italian hospital to playing for the 1949 American League All-Star team at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

Before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday, Major League Baseball will honor the sport’s contribution to American military efforts in World War II, in which more than 500 major leaguers participated. There will be a pregame ceremony and a video tribute, and among the World War II veterans expected to attend are Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Doerr and Jerry Coleman. Brissie, 88, while unable to attend for health reasons, will be among those honored in the video.

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/sports/baseball/despair-and-triumph-of-a-soldier-and-player.html?_r=1&

Originally published: October 25, 2012. Last Updated: October 25, 2012.