Memorial Day reminds us of … World War II Veteran and MLB Pitcher Lou Brissie

1949 Bowman Lou Brissie Rookie Card

Much will be written today about stars and stripes.  About fallen country men who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend the United States of America.  Much will also be penned about baseball legends Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller and many others who traded their baseball uniforms for military garb to fight in various wars.

Those legends always get the ink, and deservedly so … they were stars who were at the top of the game before they went into active military duty, a heroic act in and of itself

But there are many others to remember.  And today this blog will focus briefly on Lou Brissie.

Brissie pitched seven years in the Big Leagues for two teams, the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians. During his career he compiled a 44-48 record,  436 strikeouts and had n ERA of 4.06.  Not exactly a star, but a solid, serviceable career.

But what makes this remarkable is that it even existed.

You see, these accomplishments occurred after Brissie was wounded in battle. Brissie served in the US Army 88th Infantry Division and had the lower portion of his left leg badly wounded when his unit was under attach in December 1944 while fighting in Italy.  He later was awarded the Purple Heart.

Brissie faced more than two dozen surgeries and fought rigorously to regain the full use of his leg.  Ultimately he was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics and made his Major League Debut in late September 1947, less than three years after the war injury.

Surely there are no shortage of baseball dreams that were snuffed out via injury or death during the wars. After all, baseball is the county’s national pastime and when you’re a young boy looking up to baseball legends who are willing to give up their star status to grab a gun and fight, you might be inclined to do the same.

Remember, these were different times.

But Brissie’s courage in battle and desire to recognize a boyhood dream even after all the real-life strife, makes him a noteworthy person.

Mr. Brissie, Cardboard Icons remembers you on this Memorial Day.

 

*ESPN wrote a full-length feature on Brissie in 2007.  You can see it here.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

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