SC baseball player honored for putting country before game - - Columbia, South Carolina |

SC baseball player honored for putting country before game

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Lou Brissie's memorabilia from his playing days Lou Brissie's memorabilia from his playing days

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WIS) - The moments and memories that fill Lou Brissie's coffee table tell the story of a legendary ball player.

"You play it because you enjoy it, but then again we all love to do what we do well," said the 88-year-old. 

Brissie did it well enough to get a look from Connie Mack, owner and manager of the Philadelphia Athletics.

The stage was set for the left-handed pitcher to break into the Major Leagues. Then the world changed.

"You just have to put your personal wishes and dreams aside until we get the job done," said Brissie. "Because if we don't do this we won't have the opportunity to pursue our dreams"

Brissie's dream almost ended in northern Italy when an artillery shell nearly blew off his leg.

Doctors wanted to amputate. Brissie said no, holding out hope for a chance at the big leagues.

"You have obstacles, but you don't have roadblocks," said Brissie. "You've got to find a way."

23 surgeries and countless hours of rehab later, Brissie gradually recovered.

Mack, still with the A's, made good on his promise to give Brissie a professional shot. And in 1946 the left hander walked on to the mound at Yankee Stadium wearing a brace on his damaged leg.

The same day the Yankees were hosting an old timer's game filled with legendary players.

"It was just an unbelievable feeling," he said.  "That all the people I admired over the years as ball players are here, and I'm here with them! For a country guy, that's pretty big stuff."

Two years later Brissie was selected to play in the All-Star game before finishing his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1954.

But even more than his career, he's proud of his team of 16 million Americans who put life on hold.

Many of whom weren't as lucky to see their dreams realized.

"I just can't think of anybody that I would consider luckier than I was to get there, and be there for a little while," he said.

Brissie is one of the more than 500 major league players who took time away from their careers to serve in World War II who will be honored by Tom Brokaw Thursday night.

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