War hero to All-Star: Lou Brissie honored by MLB - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

War hero to All-Star: Lou Brissie honored by MLB

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WFXG) -

Lou Brissie knew professional baseball was a possibility in his future, even while playing at Presbyterian College.

But then, World War II broke out, and like many others, Lou enlisted.

"I think everybody kind of did that back in those days," he says. "Set aside their personal desires and wishes."

Brissie was a corporal with the Army infantry, and sent to Italy in 1943.

In December 1944, Lou's dreams nearly ended when an artillery shell exploded at his feet.

"I knew I was hit, and hit bad," he recalls. "My left foot had flopped over. I didn't see it. I thought it'd been blown off."

His left shin was shattered in 30 places. His ankle and foot were also broken. 

The injuries were so severe, doctors wanted to amputate.

"Look, don't take my leg off. I'm a ballplayer," he pleaded with the doctors.

They listened.

Instead of amputation, doctors reconstructed the leg and fought off infections to save it and his big league dreams.

He returned home in 1945, and began regaining strength in his leg, still hoping one day to take the mound for a big league club.

That's when he received a letter from Hall of Fame Manager Connie Mack.

""When you think you are ready to play, you let me know and I'll see you get the opportunity," Brissie remembers the letter reading. "That changed my outlook."

Lou joined the Philadelphia Athletics in 1947. The southpaw made his first Major League start that season at Yankee Stadium.

"Were you nervous?" asks Fox 54's Jake Wallace.

"More than you can imagine," laughs Brissie.

His first pitch- a fastball- didn't go as planned.

"It went over the catcher, over the hitter, and hit the screen," he chuckles. "And not on the first bounce either."

Over the next seven seasons with the A's and Cleveland Indians, Brissie made 93 starts and had 44 career wins.

His best season- 1949, when he finished 16-11 and was named an American League All-Star.

Many have wondered what Lou's career could've been without his battle-sustained injuries.

But he looks back without regrets.

"I have never once thought about what might have been," he says. "A lot of guys didn't make it back. That could've easily been me."

A Purple Heart recipient and former MLB All-Star who has lived in North Augusta for around 40 years, Brissie has been honored again.

Before Thursday's World Series Game 2, he was recognized with all other big leaguers who also served in WWII.

Though he was unable to make the trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco, Brissie says he's humbled just to be recognized.

"It's unbelievable for me to receive this honor," he says. "It's really unfathomable."

 

 

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