Diana Brissie, right, widow of World War II hero and ex-Major League Baseball All-Star Lou Brissie, receives an American Flag from North Augusta American Legion Post 71 emeritus chaplain, Carl Schutte, during Brissie's funeral service Saturday at North Augusta's Pineview Memorial Park. Lou Brissie graduated from Ware Shoals High School. (Scott Chancey | Index-Journal)
NORTH AUGUSTA -- On the day World War II hero and former Major League Baseball All-Star Lou Brissie was laid to rest, most sports fans were fixated Saturday, instead, on "rivalry day."
You know, South Carolina vs. Clemson.
Georgia vs. Georgia Tech.
Or, maybe, Alabama vs. Auburn.
Not that Brissie would have minded. He never wanted anything to be all about him.
He never even considered himself a hero. Not even after risking his life in the heat of battle in Italy, sustaining such a gruesome injury to his left leg that even doctors wanted to remove it.
"I'm not a hero; I've met a few," Brissie once said. "The true heroes are the ones who never made it home."
From the time he regained his playing form after more than 20 operations to striking out hitting legend Ted Williams and reaching the 1949 All-Star game, Brissie became the symbol of not only service to country but to also his fellow man.
"He forged ahead," Brissie's daughter, Vicki Bishop said on Veterans Day when his alma mater, Ware Shoals High School, dedicated its baseball field to him. "Anytime he spoke of Ware Shoals, he spoke of it with great fondness. There's no point in looking back unless it was nostalgic, which he did. But you take what you've got and your forge ahead. You do what you can do."
Even after his playing days with the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians were over, he maintained his vision to helping others. From visiting VA hospitals, encouraging others during their times of strife, to also fostering the game of baseball, Brissie was something to everybody.
"He stands for the greatest generation, being wounded in World War II, and then coming back, rehabbing and then playing," said U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan -- a former Ware Shoals football star - at Brissie's field dedication.
Once you cross through the gate to "Lou Brissie Field," a plaque commemorating all his honors rests on the exact type of rock which was used to build Reigel Stadium in the 1930s.
Elementary school children highlighted that day by singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
On Saturday, it was said Brissie is now on Heaven's All-Star team.
Considering that, it's only fitting to think back on those children singing that beloved baseball song.
For now, Williams is probably waiting at the Pearly Gates, hoping this time to get a hit off Brissie.
Chancey is sports editor at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 223-1813; e-mail email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @IJSCOTTCHANCEY . Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.