For One Baseball Player Nothing Was Impossible
Jan 16, 2014Posted by james

Just prior to this past Thanksgiving Day we lost Lou Brissie. The name may not be familiar to anyone who was not around when he played Major League Baseball during the late 1940s and early 1950s. That doesn’t matter. It is what he did outside of baseball that is the true measure of this man.

Let’s begin with a little inside baseball. Brissie was a star semipro southpaw pitcher from South Carolina who caught the eye of Philadelphia Athletics owner and manager Connie Mack. He encouraged Brissie to go to college, and he even paid for it, with a guarantee that the pitcher would be invited to spring training in a couple of years. Eventually, Brissie pitched three years for the Athletics and then three years for the Cleveland Indians. He threw three innings during the 1949 All-Star game at Ebbets Field.

Brissie, though, had some business to address before he finished college and played for Mack. He enlisted in the U.S. Army during 1942, trading a college classroom and mound for the battlefield and his position as a combat infantryman. On December 7, 1944, while on patrol with his unit in northern Italy, a shell exploded. Brissie broke his right foot, injured his right shoulder. The shinbone in his left leg was shattered into more than 30 pieces.

Brissie was evacuated to a hospital in Naples. Doctors were ready to remove the leg when Brissie told them about his baseball dream. The doctors wired together the bone fragments and Brissie recovered with the help of a new wonder drug—penicillin. Over the next two years, he had 23 more operations.

During his post-war baseball life and after, Brissie realized that he had become a symbol of success to many veterans who tried to overcome various personal problems. At first, he had been hesitant to talk about his war wounds. Then, upon hearing from so many people with disabilities who found their encouragement through Brissie’s accomplishments, he realized that his situation could help others.

Brissie vowed not to let them down. Even as he got older, Brissie, walking with crutches with a left leg scarred, misshapen and still prone to infection, often visited a local Veterans Affairs hospital. He talked with soldiers who had been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Until the day he passed away, Brissie kept a steel watch he had purchased at an Army PX. The watch was frozen at 10:47:53 a.m., the moment the shell burst near him. It was his reminder of bad luck but of his eventual good fortune.

“The thing that I got out of all this,” he said during 2001, “is even the things that look impossible aren’t.”


Fordham Rams Taste Success
Jan 03, 2014Posted by james

Fordham football has grabbed a lot of local headlines during the last two seasons.

A team effort this past season delivered a regular season 11-1 record, the most successful schedule in school history in the modern era (since 1920). That means the team was better than the days of Vince Lombardi and the Seven Blocks of Granite. All the wins placed the Rams in contention for the 2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship, where they secured a first round playoff win before losing in the second round.

While the 2013 season was a team effort, just a season earlier, when Fordham had a modest 6-5 record, headlines mostly featured one player. Place kicker Patrick Murray credited good coaching and a focused approached for his record-setting 2012 season.

Personal inspiration also had its role. Murray dedicated his senior year to a childhood friend who had been killed in a car accident. Before each game, Murray placed his friend’s initials on tape that he wrapped around his left wrist.

During the 2012 season, Murray hit 25 of 30 field goals, with four from 50 yards or more. He led the team in scoring with 105 points. He was named Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week seven times, and he earned consensus All-America honors.

Murray also ended up on the radar of professional scouts, with about every NFL team asking about him. Since last fall, he has had tryouts with the Giants, Jets and Buccaneers. His NFL future is still undetermined.

Through all this, though, Murray kept up with his studies, knowing that football is such a short moment in a lifetime. He immersed himself in portfolio management and global investing, maintaining a near-4.0 GPA as a finance major at the time of graduation. If football doesn’t work out, he will consider law school.

Patrick Murray will be successful in whichever professional direction he points his kicking toe. He is well grounded and he knows that he just needs to remain focused.