Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 57: Giving Thanks On Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day. It's important to remember, it's not just the day that anchors the three-day weekend that (for most) officially kicks off summer. It's time to give thanks to the men and women who served in the Armed Forces and have given their lives so that we may live ours freely. And to be grateful for all my uncles and cousins and friends who made it home safely.

Across Major League Baseball, teams honored such service with camouflage hats and team names in addition to pre-game ceremonies. A tradition that I've always loved—especially back in 2011 when then Red Sox catcher, Jason Varitek, wore camo catcher's equipment that he raffled off after the game. The proceeds went to benefit the Red Sox Foundation Home Base Program which supports veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in New England.

Like a lot of major league teams, the Red Sox have had a few members ship off to war throughout their history. Three notables: Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doer.

Ted Williams interrupted his 21-season career twice for military service as a pilot—World War II, 1942-1946 and the Korean War, 1952-53. It goes to show you what serving their country meant to these players when Williams hits .406 in 1941 and then ships off to war the very next season.

Johnny Pesky spent three years in the Navy during World War II. He may have missed three years of baseball, but he did meet his wife, Ruth, in Atlanta where she served with the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.) Of his 73 years spent in the baseball in some capacity or another, 61 of those years were spent with the Red Sox.

Bobby Doer entered the Army in 1944 and was discharged just over a year later in December of 1945. He missed just one season while serving and went on to set Red Sox records for career games, at bats, hits, doubles, total bases and RBIs—all of which were broken later by teammate, Ted Williams.

Thank you Ted, Johnny and Bobby. And thanks to the present and future service men and women who will make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and free.

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