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Lou Brissie

December 28, 2001

You could definitely say Leland "Lou" Brissie left it on the battlefield. A shattered leg, a broken foot and ankle, twenty-three operations and two years of rehab in World War II did the trick. A German artillery shell had something to do with it too.

In 1946, with his Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts in tow, Brissie joined the Philadelphia Athletics, who had signed him before the war. Though he walked with a brace, Brissie convinced Connie Mack to give him another chance, and played the 1947 season with the Sally League Savannah Indians.

The 6'4" southpaw dominated, going 23-5, with a league leading ERA of 1.91 and a league record 278 strikeouts, guiding the Indians to the league championship.

The day after the pennant clinching game, Mack called Brissie up to the majors. On September 28, 1947, Brissie stood atop the Yankee Stadium mound, facing the front running and soon to be World Champion New York Yankees.

Brissie played seven years in the big leagues. In 1949, he went 16-11 for the A's and was named an American League All-Star. Brissie pitched three innings in the mid-summer classic at Ebbets Field, allowing five hits, including a home run to Ralph Kiner.

Brissie cites the All-Star game as one of his fondest memories: "It was a big thrill to be with guys like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Pitching in the game was an extra."

Debuting against the Yanks on "Babe Ruth Day" in New York was Brissie's other career favorite. Recalling seeing Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, Brissie said: "It was a great day. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I lost the game, 5-2, but it was still a great experience."

After leaving baseball, Brissie worked for eight years as the National Director of American Legion Baseball, followed by 15 years in private industry management. He also worked as a lobbyist in Washington D.C.

Brissie, now 77, lives in North Augusta, South Carolina. He and his wife Diana occasionally cross the Savannah River to watch the Augusta Green-Jackets play. Brissie also devotes time to another project. Along with a group of South Carolinians, he is trying to get his old friend, Greenville's favorite son "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, back into good standing with Major League Baseball.

.Tim Daiss


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