Lou Brissie’s big league dreams almost ended in a shell hole in Italy in 1944. A German artillery shell had killed most of the men around him and he was left with a broken right leg and his left tibia and shinbone was shattered into thirty pieces. By the time he was found on the battlefield, the leg was infected and he was marked for amputation. But Lou Brissie refused to give up on his dream of being a big league pitcher. Coming to in the field hospital, the ballplayer turned corporal begged the doctor to save his leg. Two years and more than two dozen operations later, Lou Brissie walked out of the hospital and resumed his baseball career. The A’s owner/manager Connie Mack had heard Brissie’s story and signed him to a minor league contract. With the aid of a specially made metal brace that held his shattered leg together, Brissie worked his way up the minor league ladder until he made his major league debut at the end of the 1947 season. Over the course of seven seasons split between Philadelphia and Cleveland, Brissie won 44 games, realizing his dream that almost ended that day in Italy in 1944.
Brissie’s two fielder’s gloves show tremendous game use, as tough and determined looking as their owner. The leather has darkened with age and several of the leather lacing have broken of been replaced. The wrist strap of the four-finger model has been removed and any model identifying stamps have been worn away. The three-finger model has the Rawlings label on the wrist strap but the model stamping has also been worn off of this glove. The last piece in this lot is perhaps the most illustrative of what makes Lou Brissie’s major league career so special: his custom metal leg brace. The brace is constructed of aluminum and is designed to brace the leg from the ankle to the knee. The metal has several air holes drilled in it and the ends have a foam cushion secured with adhesive tape for comfort. Brissie writes in his autobiography that the brace was worn with a strap behind the knee, much like a catcher’s shin guard. With the aid of this simple but effective brace, Brissie was able to carve of a nice seven year career in the Major Leagues. A poignant group that pays silent tribute to one man’s determination to not let a combat injury derail his big league dreams.
LOA from the Brissie Family.