Yogi and Artie, Hall of Famers, Need Some Company

Yogi Berra's Plaque in Baseball's Hall of Fame

Excellent cover story on Yogi Berra in the week’s Sports Illustrated.  I had forgotten, or perhaps never knew, that he was aboard an assault craft on D-Day back in 1944. Yogi had played one season of minor league baseball before joining the Navy and volunteering for duty on a rocket boat that led the invasion of Utah Beach.

The same issue has a brief profile of  Artie Donovan, who also served in World War II and returned home to fashion a brilliant career in the sport of football.

We know stories of other athletic immortals who did likewise – Ted Williams the fighter pilot; Warren Spahn, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge; Christy Mathewson, accidentally gassed in a training exercise in World War I; Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, the “Kraut Line” who went off together to face the Germans as members of the Royal Canadian Air Force .  Like Yogi, all these gentlemen are enshrined in their respective Halls of Fame: Spahn, Williams and Mathewson  at Cooperstown, Donovan at Canton, the “Krauts” in Toronto.

But how many other men of that era left the playing fields to don the uniform of their country and did not make it back?  There must be dozens of them, if not hundreds. They may have lost their lives in battle or suffered debilitating injuries, or may have been too old to resume their athletic careers after the war.

Our Northern neighbors and partners in freedom just celebrated their national holiday.  America is preparing for its own birthday, to celebrate the incomparable gifts that our parents, grandparents, and earlier forebears earned for us and bequeathed to us.

At this time of patriotic reflection and thanks to those who made our lands what they are today, here’s a thought for those who run the Halls of Fame in baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and all the other sports, for that matter. You’re the Keepers of the Flame. You honor and remember those who achieved and excelled. Now tell us the stories of those who might also have achieved and excelled, but who put their sporting lives aside for a higher cause and did not return. Carve them a niche, enroll them, and down through the years, tell your visitors about them – how good they were, how greater still they might have been.

One Response to “Yogi and Artie, Hall of Famers, Need Some Company”

  1. BARBARA LYONS Says:

    SOMETIMES ALL OF US GET CAUGHT UP IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES & FORGET ABOUT THESE UNSUNG HEROES & THE SACRIFICES THEY MADE & GAVE FOR OUR FREEDOMS WE ENJOY…THANKS FOR THE STORY

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: