Showing posts with label Lou Brissie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lou Brissie. Show all posts

Monday, November 12, 2018

Baseball on the frontlines - The five best books about baseball during World War II

As we celebrate Veterans Day across the country, here is a look at the top five books about baseball during World War II. At a time when our entire nation was focused on the war, President Roosevelt ordered the game to continue for the morale of citizens everywhere. These five books illuminate the efforts to preserve the game on the home front, as well as the experiences of those who traded their baseball uniforms for military ones.

5) Bluejackets of Summer: The History of the Great Lakes Naval Baseball Team 1942-1945


Roger Gogan’s “Bluejackets of Summer,” details the Great Lakes Naval Baseball team, a unit so strong that it was often referred to as the “17th Major League team.” The Great Lakes Naval Station hosted an array of All-Star talent from 1942-1945, led by Hall of Fame manager Mickey Cochrane. The team included Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Johnny Mize, and Pee Wee Reese, as well as All-Stars Schoolboy Rowe, Virgil Trucks, and Dom DiMaggio.

4) Hardball on the Home Front: Major League Replacement Players of World War II


When the draft took many of the major leaguers from their teams, players who were exempt from service stepped up to the plate. These included teenagers such as Joe Nuxhall and Tommy Brown, as well as post-retirement forty-somethings Babe Herman and Clyde Sukeforth. Craig Allen Cleve interviewed nine wartime baseball players for "Hardball on the Home Front," who generously shared their experiences playing baseball after President Roosevelt ordered Judge Landis to keep baseball going.

3) The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII


When President Roosevelt made his decree, players mulled the decision to enlist (before they were drafted) or to stay home and play. Author John Klima penned “The Game Must Go On,” to tell the story of American baseball during World War II - of both the players who left to join the war and the ones who kept the game alive stateside. Klima provides a deep look at the stars that left and the players like one-armed Pete Gray, who fought to inspire others on the field. The book finishes with the 1945 pennant race where Gray’s St. Louis Browns fought mightily to upstage Hank Greenberg’s Detroit Tigers.

2) The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg


Moe Berg was a major league catcher for 19 seasons, but his true fame came for his work as a spy during World War II. The Office of Strategic Services sent Berg to investigate Germany’s Atomic Bomb developments. After the war, he helped draw European scientists to the United States. The President awarded Berg the Presidential Medal of Freedom; however, he refused to accept the honor. Author Nicholas Dawidoff digs deeply into the mysterious life of one of baseball’s enigmas with "The Catcher Was a Spy."

1) The Corporal Was a Pitcher: The Courage of Lou Brissie


Lou Brissie was an All-Star pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1949, but his road to stardom was marred with hurdles unlike any other major leaguer has ever faced. 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.

The Corporal Was a Pitcher,” is an intense look at the horrors of war, as Brissie waited over sixty-years to tell the painful details of the carnage he witnessed while he managed his own suffering.



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 resiliency 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.