"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Paul Donnelly writes in the NY Sun the story of Pat Tillman puts him in mind of two legendary NY athletes. The first is Christy Mathewson, biggest star of the deadball era:
Mathewson was 38 years old when he volunteered - not merely for the Army, in 1916. That would have been extraordinary enough, but Matty volunteered for the chemical warfare division - surely the most dangerous and repulsive and, therefore, heroic thing he could think of, kind of like Tillman going to Afghanistan. When the Army wouldn't send him to France, Matty used his clout to get a personal meeting with President Wilson. "I can't send you to France, Matty," Wilson is reported to have told him. "You're a national icon."
"I know that, Mr. President," Matty replied. "And that's exactly why I have to go."
The other is "Harvard" Eddie Grant, the only major-leaguer killed in action in the Great War:
In the old Polo Grounds at West 155th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, gone 40 years now, there was a 5-foot-tall block of granite in centerfield, nearly 480 feet from home plate. It was dedicated to the memory of "Harvard Eddie," Captain Edward Leslie Grant, class of 1906, who while on patrol with the 307th infantry unit of the 77th Division, in the Argonne Forest, was shot on October 5, 1918, and died four days later. Inexplicably, the Eddie Grant memorial vanished when the Polo Grounds was torn down. (How do you lose a half-ton block of granite with a bronze plaque?)
Eddie Grant was killed in the Argonne as he led a mission to rescue the "Lost Battalion" trapped behind German lines. Each Memorial Day a wreath-laying ceremony was held at his plaque in deep centerfield at the Polo Grounds. The plaque may be seen in this photo of Willie Mays' famous catch in the 1954 World Series.
In December 2001, the Great War Society and the Western Front Association - US Branch approached the San Francisco Giants Baseball Club with an offer to help defray costs of installing a replacement for Eddie Grant's plaque at the new Giants Stadium. The team's President and Managing General Partner declined the offer. In the subsequent seasons, the Giants blew a sixth game lead and ultimately the 2002 World Series, and were eliminated early in the 2003 playoffs. Their previous World Series appearances following the loss of Eddie's plaque were notably odd. In the 1962 rain-plagued series, the last out of the seventh game was a crushing line drive with the Series' winning runs in scoring position that went as if guided by radar to the Yankees second baseman. The 1989 earthquake-plagued series ended with a four-game sweep by the Oakland A's. The Giants last won a championship in 1954 -- three years before Captain Eddie's plaque disappeared. Could there be a jinx or a curse associated with the plaque?
If the Great War Society's account is accurate, you do have to wonder at the Giants' declining (three months after 9/11) to honor an old hero. If a granite monument in the outfield isn't feasible, a small plaque in the outfield wall would be.
My sense is the steroid scandal is going to hurt the Giants more than an affront to the memory of a fallen ballplayer-soldier.
But if the Curse of the Bambino is no more, might a Curse of Eddie Grant remain?