May 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; A United States Army Service woman kisses her son as they stand on the field for batting practice prior to a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies on memorial day at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
While we spend perhaps a disproportionate amount of our time thinking about a game, the game of baseball, it is our right to do so. We are extremely fortunate to have the freedoms that we do; the pursuit of happiness is one of the three unalienable rights highlighted by Thomas Jefferson and the Committee of Five in the Declaration of Independence. The men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms were honored on Monday, Memorial Day. As part of my own remembrance of those men and women, I set out to do some research about those who both gave their lives in service and played major league baseball. During the course of my research, I found eight men who both saw action in the big leagues and were killed while serving in the military.
I thought I might write a bit about each. And then I came across this website: http://www.baseballsgreatestsacrifice.com/table_of_all_players.html This site has a list of over 500 people who played baseball in the Major Leagues, minor leagues, Negro leagues, semi-pro leagues, amateur leagues, Japanese leagues, Australian leagues, and college level. They fought in wars as far back as the American Civil War and as recently as the current war in Afghanistan. While looking through the list, I began to wonder how many of them might have made the majors if things had gone differently. And then I continued to wonder… how many service members, both on and off this list, might have become teachers, artists, businesspeople, police officers, builders, singers of the National Anthem, Little League coaches, fathers, mothers, best friends… It is important for us to remember these men and women. As we live our lives, as we enjoy watching our favorite team play, or having a catch with our daughter, or explaining the art of bunting to the kids on the team you coach…it is good to remember those who sacrificed all of this, so we did not have to. And to say a quiet thank you.