Giving Up for the Team
When a baseball team is up to bat, the objective is to move a player around the bases to score. With the way that the rules work, there are a variety of ways to move a runner to the next base. One of the ways is for the batter, at a critical point, to create a situation to get himself out to allow a runner to advance; for example hitting the ball deep to the outfield so a runner can tag and advance or bunting the ball so the only play is to first base and a runner can advance or score. They call that a sacrifice and the reward for the player is that it doesn’t count against them in their batting average. It’s been a legitimate play in baseball for over a hundred years.
Many of baseball’s greatest players made other sacrifices as well. Especially during World War II, many of them enlisted in the military and spent time overseas serving our country. Some died, some were injured, but many came back and resumed their careers. Here’s some of the greatest players and how they served:
- Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankees – “Joltin’ Joe” played Major League Baseball from 1936 to 1951 and is known as one of the most complete players in baseball; in other words, he had all the skills you would want a player to have. But when the war came, DiMaggio willingly left baseball from 1943 – 1945 to serve US Air Force. Upon his discharge, he resumed with the Yankees and had a stellar career.
- Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians – Feller, a pitcher, played in the Major Leagues from 1936-1956. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and brought America into World War II. On December 8, Bob Feller left baseball to enlist in the US Navy and gave up four years in baseball to serve. As skilled and dominant a player he was, many wonder how much more Feller could have accomplished if he had stayed in baseball those four years.
- Warren Spahn, Boston Braves – Spahn was also a pitcher and is the winning-est left-hander in history. He played from 1942 to 1965, including the 1948 World Series where the Braves battle cry was “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain“. During WWII, he served in the US Army, at one point suffering injury from shrapnel and received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. When the ware ended, Spahn went back to Braves (and eventually other teams) and continued to dominate batters, even winning the Cy Young award for the top pitcher.
- Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox – Williams was arguably the greatest hitter in baseball and played from 1939-1960, leaving for a while to join the US Navy and then the Marines, serving from 1942-1946, and recalled in 1952. Like Bob Feller, many wonder what more Williams could have accomplished had he stayed in baseball during that time.
These men saw something greater than themselves and greater than baseball and chose to serve when it was necessary. Certainly there were those who thought they should have stayed in, that they were more valuable in baseball. But they didn’t see it that way.
Sacrifice to Serve
Over the years, many men and women have felt the same way. My nephew Cody is currently serving overseas. I have many friends who also have served or are serving. They all know there is something greater than themselves, greater than anything they might accomplish during this time. They are giving up careers, family, and much more to serve this country. In some cases, they are sacrificing all of this for the benefit of people in other countries. While some may question that, they do not. They serve, for a greater good.
Like in baseball, they sacrifice themselves in order to help others move ahead.
Thank you to all Veterans for the service and sacrifice you have made.
- Make it a point to say “Thank you for your service” to any Veterans you encounter day and every day.