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Some ballplayers gave all

May 27, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT

Bob Neighbors

Memorial Day is to remember those who died in service to your country. Today Joey Nowak of MLB.com has a piece up about some major leaguers who made the ultimate sacrifice.

There has not been a Major Leaguer killed in combat since since the Korean War, when [Bob] Neighbors flew a mission in a B-26 twin motor bomber. His aircraft was shot down on Aug. 8, 1952, and his body was never recovered.

“What drew him was what drew all young men at the time,” Morris Neighbors said. “When World War II broke out, the American people were so enraged at the sneak attack of Pearl Harbor. All able-bodied men that weren’t otherwise involved just flooded to get into the military to help win the war. Bob was one of those that thought his duty was more in the military than playing baseball. Once he got in, he loved it.”

For a comprehensive look at those ballplayers who served, and those who died, go to Baseball in Wartime and spend some time there.

  1. jwbiii - May 27, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Eddie Grant was killed
    http://www.baseballsgreatestsacrifice.com/biographies/grant_eddie.html
    trying to save my grandfather’s unit. Without the courage he and others displayed, I obviously wouldn’t be here.

  2. pjmitch - May 27, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    God Bless them all.

    • rbj1 - May 27, 2013 at 5:36 PM

      Amen

  3. blacksables - May 27, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    MLB does nothing to honor these guys, and it just seem wrong. There needs to be some kind of campaign to get them to change that.

    If only there were a group of well-known bloggers, who ran a very popular baseball site, who chose to use their powers for good instead of evil……..

    • calsgr8 - May 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

      Have you ever been to the Baseball Hall of Fame? They have been in an exhibit there and there is a symbol by each plaque of every Hof who served!

      • blacksables - May 27, 2013 at 5:22 PM

        Since when did MLB take over the Hall of Fame?

        Last time I checked, about 3 months ago, the Hall of Fame was a private organization that isn’t run by MLB, only associated with it.

      • rufuscornpone - May 28, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        Bart: I just think our veterans deserve a little recognition.
        Lisa: That’s what Veterans Day is for, Bart.
        Bart: But is that really enough to honor our brave soldiers?
        Lisa: They also have Memorial Day!
        Bart: Oh, Lisa, maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong, the important thing is that veterans deserve a day to honor them!
        Lisa: They have two!
        Bart: Well, maybe they should have three. I’m Bart Simpson.

  4. blantoncollier - May 27, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Whats rather amazing is how many baseball players gave up or postponed their careers in their prime to serve their country. Several like Bob Feller came back and still had HOF careers others were never the same. Yet they served. Cant imagine a player today (other than Pat Tillman in the NFL) who would sacrifice dollars for their country.

    • slystone111 - May 27, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      Oh, please. Certainly, there were some very great men who played baseball in the 1940s and were willing to make big sacrifices in service of their country. However:

      1. It is important to resist the temptation to view that era through “Greatest Generation”-tinted glasses. Morris Neighbors says, “All able-bodied men that weren’t otherwise involved just flooded to get into the military to help win the war.” Not quite, since two-thirds of the soldiers in World War II were drafted. That includes a great many of the baseball players, some of whom–Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, for example–earned great praise for their patriotism despite resisting their enlistment (Williams actually filed a formal protest with his draft board when he was declared eligible for the draft).

      2. At the same time, it is impossible to say what today’s players would do until a similar set of circumstances arises. Since that is unlikely to happen–today’s wars do not have the manpower needs that World War II did–we will never know.

      • mrfloydpink - May 28, 2013 at 2:28 PM

        Well put! A great generation that did important and heroic things. But that does not mean we have to then lapse into hero worship.

  5. rewdog24 - May 27, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Nile Kinnick in football

  6. brewcrewfan54 - May 28, 2013 at 2:29 AM

    Kind of a shame that more people didn’t post here today. I’m late as hell so probably no better. That was still the greatest generation, I give no fucks to anyone who says otherwise.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - May 28, 2013 at 3:47 AM

      Someone has to say it: they were no greater than any other generation. They were faced with unusually severe challenges and came through quite well, thanks in no small part to their leaders providing them with the plans and tools to accomplish the task, leaders who were of the preceding generation. The so-called “greatest” were more racist and sexist than subsequent generations, mostly unwilling to buck against serving in a segregated military. If today’s kids faced a like threat from foreign military powers bent on our destruction, they’d respond just as well.

    • skids003 - May 28, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      I agree brewcrewfan. It’s amazing at how many think otherwise. Drafted or not, they went willingly to defend our country, something the liberals and Democrats can’t quite grasp.

      • mrfloydpink - May 28, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        What on Earth are you talking about?

        First of all, “Drafted or not, they went willingly”? Do you not understand what “drafted” means? Your statement is like saying, “Though the government ordered them to go, they went voluntarily.”

        Second, my grandfathers both served. My grandmothers both worked as riveters. I am a professional historian. All five of us are liberal Democrats. So what is it, exactly, that we do not grasp? As I noted above, there is no question that many members of this generation were very heroic and did great things. BUT, it is a terribly unfair and unproductive form of historical revisionism to place them on a pedestal and at the same time use that to denigrate previous or subsequent generations.

  7. maxt75 - May 28, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    I wonder if WW2 hadn’t happened how many of these brave men would be spoken of in the same breath as DiMaggio, Williams, Mays, Mantle, ect….
    I also wonder if we were to face the same threats today how many MLB players would serve. How many would give up their million dollar contracts to stand along side common people to protect our country.
    I hope we never have to find out.

  8. jeffbbf - May 28, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    I felt I should look at the names…just thought that if I was on the list, I’d like to know that someone cared to look. In WWII: 3 died on D-Day. 1 died in Czechoslovakia (what was he doing there?). Many died right here in the states in what were probably training accidents. I wonder how many hall of famers died in that war.

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