2018-10-04 / Sports

Brissie Was one of 'The Greatest Generation

BASEBALL’S BEST
LAMAR GARRARD
baseball historian

“It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” – Tom Brokaw

Last Thursday was the 71st anniversary of a famous baseball game that was played at Yankee Stadium on September 28, 1947. A nervous lad from Ware Shoals, South Carolina, made his major league pitching debut against the talent-laden New York Yankees who finished that season as World Series Champions.

Pitching for the Philadelphia Athletics was former Presbyterian College left-handed pitcher and World War II hero, Leland “Lou” Brissie. Pitching as a youngster in the Carolina Textile League, Brissie soon drew the attention of major league scouts.

The 15-year-old pitched against teams with much older players and in one game struck out 22 batters. In 1943 he had success pitching for the Presbyterian Blue Hose college baseball team and also played on the basketball team.

major leagues, but his dream was interrupted by WWII. As a 19-year-old infantry squad leader during the Italy campaign, he was severely wounded by an exploding shell on December 7, 1944. The explosion did great damage to one leg, foot and ankle, and his other foot. There was shrapnel all over his body including his pitching hand. The surgeons wanted to amputate his leg, but Lou told them he was a ball player and pleaded with them to save his leg. God smiled on the situation and Brissie was sent to a large general hospital and a Doc- tor Brubaker saved his leg. After 23 operations and 40 blood transfusions and months in the hospital Brissie slowly recovered. He and Army Doctor Brubaker remained friends for a lifetime.

The story gets more dramatic as Lou leaves the hospital and starts on a slow process to again pitch base- ball. He tried at several opportunities - ing discouragement he persevered like a true war hero that he was and Savannah in 1947. Signing with the Philadelphia Athletics farm club in the Sally league, his season started Determined to overcome his hindrances, Lou stayed with it that year and wound up winning 23 games while Savannah captured the league championship. Connie Mack, summoned Brissie was at Yankee Stadium against the future world champs. The game honored Babe Ruth and also was Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Cy Young, along with Yankee fans saw Brissie pitch seven innings while losing the game, - 3.

Brissie had reached the pinnacle of his baseball dreams. He went on and was chosen to be on the 1949 National League All-Star Team.

A hero and a patriot, Brissie was once asked if he considered himself a hero and his reply was, “No but I knew some.” With such humility and grace it is easy to see why he “The Greatest Generation.” Ware and put up plaques in his honor.

If you are interested in a wonder- read his book, The Corporal was a Pitcher. You will be inspired. Be- cause of folks like him, we should always want to sing our National

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