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Baseball and D-Day

Jun 6, 2012, 8:31 AM EDT

New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Berra watches players during a workout at the team's spring training camp

‎68 years ago today Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy and ushered in the beginning of the end for Nazism. I’m not good at putting such things in perspective, and finding connections to great historical events and baseball can be a tricky and often foolish business, but that’s what we do here sometimes.

You’ve probably heard about Yogi Berra taking part in D-Day.  If not, here’s a great story about it from several years ago from

You probably haven’t heard about Lefty Brewer.  Assuming not, here’s a great story about him and others like him.

It won’t be too long before living memory of D-Day and everything else from that time is gone. So do history and yourself a favor and seek out stuff like that whenever you can.  And remember it.

  1. proudlycanadian - Jun 6, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    Great stories Craig. My dad was in the Canadian Air Force during the war and his kid brother was in the Navy.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      this is about American History proudly, nobody cares about canada.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:22 AM

        Learn some history, dirtyharry. It really helps you not be a complete and utter jackass:

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:49 AM

        You really should read up on American history Harry. While Canada participated in both both WW1 and WW2 from the start, the US was slow to enter both wars. Once you got involved, your country was magnificent; however, it would have been preferable if you could have entered the wars a tad earlier.

      • ugglasforearms - Jun 6, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Harry, that is one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever heard. You are proud of being an American??? In my opinion, people like you are part of the reason others around the world HATE America.

      • proudlycanadian - Jun 6, 2012 at 11:31 AM

        Harry was not trying to be an ugly American. His comment (along with his numerous anti Blue Jay comments) was a feeble attempt to upset me. We do have a history on the old MSNBC message boards.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 6, 2012 at 1:48 PM

        dirty, I’ll keep this brief: Juno Beach.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Jun 6, 2012 at 9:12 PM

        italy and canada were the only nations with tanks that had reverse lights on the back of them. USA #1, canada hock Ptooey!!!!!

  2. backstop5 - Jun 6, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    I don’t want to take anything away from the brave men who stormed those beaches in Normandy, but to say that moment ushered in the beginning of the end of Nazism is selling the Russians way short, who were well on their way to defeating the Nazis from the East. They did prevent the Russians from taking the whole of Europe though, so i’m very grateful for that.

    • aceshigh11 - Jun 6, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      Why do you hate America?

      Everyone knows that Ronald Reagan singlehandedly stormed Hitler’s bunker and shot him between the eyes, stopped Stalin’s armies from taking Europe, and then flew halfway around the world to drop both atomic bombs on Japan on nothing but 3 hours sleep and a couple of cups of coffee.

      Sell your leftist revisionism elsewhere, Comrade.

      • jimbo1949 - Jun 6, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        You forgot the part about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor.

      • skids003 - Jun 6, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        Not funny. These people fought and died so people like you could make jokes about them and be free. Not funny at all. They deserve our greatest respect and admiration.

      • aceshigh11 - Jun 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM

        Give me a break. I was NOT denigrating WWII veterans.

        I was parodying a typical knee-jerk, right-wing reaction to the post above me.

      • natstowngreg - Jun 6, 2012 at 5:37 PM

        aces, you really need to study history. John Wayne did all of that. Ronald Reagan got the coffee for him.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jun 6, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      Ever think that had something to dow with Germany having to fight on 2 fronts? I mean this isn’t Sun Tzu we’re talking about here.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 6, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      backstop, that’s not the point. This is merely to honor those who gave so much to fight for our country in such dark and fearsome times.

      My never-ending respect and gratefulness for the men and women who serve and have served.

  3. hep3 - Jun 6, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    The Greatest Generation, indeed.

    I remember an interview with Bob Feller and he was asked about the almost four years he missed because of WW II and the fact that he probably lost as many as 100 wins from what could have been his career total.

    Feller said something to the effect of: “Those wins were not important. We all knew we had to get the big win.”

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jun 6, 2012 at 9:53 AM

      When he died the NY Times did an awesome obit with a video of an interview they did with him a few years prior. I can’t remember the exact quote, but they asked him how he wanted to be remembered and said something to the effect of a good man who loved his country first and played a little baseball second.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 6, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        I wish we could see that kind of class and character in more ballplayers. Hell, more people.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jun 6, 2012 at 5:37 PM

        Found the article. The video is about half way down the page on the left.

  4. number42is1 - Jun 6, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    ימח שמו וזכרו

    • amhendrick - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      This translates as “May his name be obliterated” ?

      • number42is1 - Jun 6, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        yup. in regard to the Nazi’s

  5. - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    I just started reading the first of Jeff Shaara’s four books on WWII (his other work is excellent if you’re into the historical fiction. And it keeps you from making comments like above.)

    It seems sureal that human beings were capable of inflicting that type of horror on other humans. It’s also sureal to realize what humans had to become to put a stop to it.

    I say “were” like it was in the past tense. However, organisms don’t evolve that much over 70 years, so it’s certainly possible that something like WWII could happen again. But I certainly hope not.

    Today is D-Day Veterans’ day to be honored. The other theaters & battles have their days as well.

    • themuddychicken - Jun 6, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      My family has been reading Jeff Shaara’s book for years. We find them fascinating and entertaining, and they cover such a wide range of wars. It helps that his father wrote “The Killer Angels,” which later spawned the movie “Gettysburg” with which my family fell in love while I was a young child.

  6. steveohho - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Of Germany’s 10,000,000 casualties in World War II, over 75% came by fighting the Red Army. The German air force lost most of its planes and pilots on the Eastern Front. Germany was beaten long before D Day.

    • cdullnig - Jun 6, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      Yes, they were beaten before D-Day, but not by the Russians alone.
      The Nazis were crippled by a lack of oil and air power. That was because US and British forces took North Africa from one of Hitlers best generals, Rommel, keeping them from the mid-east oil fields.
      Air superiority is most often a numbers game. American and British bombers and their escort destroyed a large portion of the German air force, giving the Red Army that advantage. They also reduced German military production by 25% to 50%, significant, and disrupted and eventually destroyed the syn-fuel capability Germany possessed. The lack of fuel stopped the superior maneuvering capabilities of the Blitzkrieg.
      North Africa, Sicily, up the boot of Italy, battle of the Atlantic, raids on Norway, etc. all happened before D-Day.
      I am not disputing the heroic efforts of the Soviets, or that they did the bulk of the fighting Europe, but it was a two front war from day one and D-Day was just an important part of it late in the game.

  7. stackers1 - Jun 6, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Fantastic story about Lefty Brewer. So many great Americans have died so I can sit here in my cubical & read HBT on my lunch hour. We are barely worthy of their sacrafice.

  8. mybrunoblog - Jun 6, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Years ago I think it was a VFW magazine that had Yogi Berra on the cover and his story/recollections of D-Day. Don’t know where you’d find it but it was a great read.

    After reading some of the posts here about D-Day I sometimes forget how ignorant people choose to be. The guy who said the Germans were almost finished by the time we invaded France. Huh???? Pathetic is an understatement.

  9. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    This is another incredible story:

  10. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 6, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    “The heroes didn’t come back,” said Feller, a chief petty officer who was director of a set of four anti-aircraft guns on the Alabama. “They’re at the bottom of the ocean — 405,000 of them. I’m only telling this now for the young people, who don’t understand what the world and the war was like.”

    Unbelievable. I am so grateful.

    • - Jun 6, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      No Doubt. I’m not going to go on some rant about how this generation is a bunch of namby pamby wusses. Each Generation has it’s own issues to deal with.

      I’m getting to the upper end of what would be “fighting age” in WWII. However, if something like this were to happen again I hope I, and the rest of my Generation would answer the call like our grandfathers.

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