Sunday, June 23, 2013

John Franco helping to raise funds for the Fisher House Foundation

Fisher House Foundation Director of Donations Andrew Kayton (far left), joined by Mets great John Franco alongside Wounded Warrior folks / Citi

New York Mets Hall of Fame closer John Franco appeared at Citi Field last Tuesday for a charity softball game that raised money for the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that builds houses at VA hospitals and military medical facilities that families can stay at when they have loved ones in the hospital.

Currently there are 61 Fisher Houses in operation at every major military medical facility. They support over 20,000 families every year saving them more than $30 million dollars in lodging costs, food, and transportation. No family ever pays to stay at a Fisher House because the foundation picks up the bill that the military would normally charge a family to stay at a Fisher House.

This year’s game raised over $20,000 to support military families, and will provide over 200 nights of lodging at a “home away from home,” for the brave men and women of the United States military and their families.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lou Brissie - A soldier's courageous journey to take the mound

Lou Brissie is an exemplary measure of courage, strength and perseverance. Just as he graduated from Ware Shoals High School in 1941, Brissie signed with the Philadelphia Athletics on the condition he would join the club after finishing three years at Presbyterian College.

The Athletics were ready to bring Brissie to spring training in 1943, but the draw of representing his country was too strong, as Brissie enlisted in December 1942.

To call Brissie's experience in the war remarkable would be an understatement. Life changed drastically for Brissie on December 7, 1944. While serving in Italy, an artillery shell exploded on his squad leaving him for dead with his left leg tattered from the explosion. Doctors wanted to amputate, but Brissie pleaded with them to save his injured appendage.

Dr. Wilbur Brubaker believed he could repair Brissie's leg, and after 23 surgeries, he was able to return to the field in 1947. Connie Mack held a spot for the left-hander through his recovery, encouraging him every step along the way.

Wearing a heavy brace on his weakened leg, Brissie battled through pain filled nights trying to find the strength that made him a fireballing prospect. Mack rewarded him with a late-season appearance in 1947 with the Philadelphia Athletics after posting a 23-5 record with Class A Savannah. He spent the next six seasons in the major leagues, making the 1949 American League All-Star team en route to a 44-48 career record.

Every time Brissie took the field, he brought hope and inspiration to the veterans recovering from injuries even more devastating than what he faced. His career became a shining example of the resilient spirit of Americans in the face of extreme adversity.

Some sixty years later, Brissie went through the arduous task of reliving the details of his war experiences in his 2009 autobiography, "The Corporal Was a Pitcher." The book is a must read not only for all baseball fans, but those who are interested in discovering a first-person experience illuminating the true meaning of the American spirit.