||Honors! Table of Contents||
1 June 2004
And so they played "Taps" Monday
For Pat Tillman... For all of them
|Memorial Day was for
all the Pat Tillmans
by Mike Lopresti
This article was copied from the 1 June 2004 RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
Word came down this Memorial Day weekend that Tillman was probably killed by his own troops in Afghanistan. Another mistake in the turmoil of war. Making the former NFL safety, I suppose it could be argued in the multimedia age, as famous a victim of friendly fire this country has had since Stonewall Jackson.
Monday was for all the lost from all the wars through all the years. And if Pat Tillmanís death splashed from the news section to the sports section with awful irony, then maybe Monday was a good day to remember that others did, too.
The fifth name on the list of Heisman winners is Iowa running back Nile Kinnick. When he accepted the trophy in the winter of 1939, Germany had overrun Poland, and was making plans for France.
"I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest," Kinnick said in his speech, "and not the battlefields of Europe."
But World War II would eventually draw in many from the gridirons of the Midwest, and one was Kinnick, a Navy ensign who died in a crash landing in the Caribbean in 1943.
Now the football stadium at Iowa carries
his name, so no one forgets.
Bob Kalsu is a name on the wall at the Vietnam Memorial. He was an All-American tackle at Oklahoma and rookie guard for the Buffalo Bills and a family man, so maybe he could have found a way out when the Army called him up. In the 1960s, many did.
But he wanted to do his duty, and one July day in 1970, besieged with his artillery unit in a hostile and rocky place called Firebase Ripcord, Kalsu was killed by a mortar shell.
Two days later, his wife gave birth to their son, not knowing until an officer showed up at hospital room door that her husband had been killed.
In 2000, the Bills inducted Kalsu into their Hall of Fame, and on that day James Robert Kalsu Jr. wore the uniform of the father he never knew.
Then there was Hobey Baker, perhaps this countryís first great hockey player, who crashed days after the Armistice in 1918. And Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson, exposed to poison gas during a training accident in Europe during World War I after he volunteered to serve right from the managerís office of the Cincinnati Reds.
His lungs ruined for good, Mathewson was dead at 45 from tuberculosis.
Tillmanís sacrifice, so publicly poignant when the word first came, is even more so now. The big headlines, it turns out, were all about an error.
It is a heartrending twist to the tale. But then, canít that be said about all of them, the ones who fell for us? The hundreds of minor leaguers killed in World War II without notice. Those who were playing in the Army-Navy game one moment, and in battle the next, and never came back.
Memorial Day was for all the Pat Tillmans. And a reminder that no soldier dies without his or her own story.
Mike Lopresti is a columnist for Gannett News Service.
End ///Reno Gazette-Journal article
Born 21 May, 1883
KIA 5 October 1918 in Argonne Forest, France
Grant was a Harvard graduate who played 10 years in the Majors. After a
three hit debut with the Cleveland Naps of the American League, he went
to the minors. He reappeared with the 1907 Phillies, and took over as leadoff
batter in 1908, leading the NL in at-bats in 1908 and 1909.
Grant became a fine-fielding third baseman, fast on the bases and dependable in the clutch. In 1915, after two-and-a-half seasons with the Giants, where he was a favorite of John McGraw, he retired to practice law in New York City.
When war was declared on Germany, he joined the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division, entering the service from New York. He was leading a mission in the Argonne Forest to rescue the "Lost Battalion" when he was killed by German shell fire. He became one of three Major League players killed in World War I.
Find more... Lost Battalion information links via Google Search.
(On 30 May 1921) A monument to Eddie Grant's memory was placed in centerfield in the Polo Grounds' in New York. Each Memorial Day there was a wreath-laying ceremony at his plaque.
Image left: Grant in Officers Training at Plattsburgh, NY
Text and image this section are from FindaGrave.com
The best and most detailed Eddie Grant article found on the internet is featured in the October 2004 on-line Smithsonian Magazine (and also in their print magazine). It is titled Ultimate Sacrifice. Access to the full text article - in PDF format - is provided at that website.
Link to Eddie Grant bibliography is HERE
For baseball history buffs, here are more links relevant to the Eddie Grant story including historical information about the Polo Grounds (Brush Stadium) and the NY Giants, including interesting info about Coogan's Bluff
The Eddie Grant plaque can be seen below the "483 FT" sign
The plaque "allegedly" is now stored in California
This picture shows Willie Mays' catch of Vic Wertz's drive in the opening
game of the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds in NYC.
Image was copied from HERE