PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 11: United States service members look on during the Military Appreciation Ceremony prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 11, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
I intended to talk about Michael Bourn's 82% success rate at stealing bases, but his actual percentage is 82.48% so maybe we'll push that back until tomorrow and instead focus on something that has very little to do with the number 82nd game of the year.
As everyone knows today is July 4th, a day in which we grill, shoot fireworks and watch baseball. It's a day in which we celebrate our independence as a nation and those who protect or have protected our independence. In this post I'm going to recognize those players who have not only played for the Colt .45's/Astros, but also served in the military.
This list is not exhaustive. I feel I've done a pretty good job identifying those who have served, but realize that I may have missed some players. Because the Astros franchise wasn't established until 1962 most of the players I've been able to identify served during the '50's. The lone player I've found that served during World War II was Ryan Roberts who joined the Air Force in the Spring of 1945, but was discharged shortly after the war in November 1945.
The other players who served in the military:
Red Witt, served in the early '50's and played for the Colt .45's during their heir inaugural season.
Don McMahon, served in early '50's and played for the Colt. 45's from 1962-1963.
Al Cicotte, served in late '40's and early '50's played for the Colt .45's in their inaugural season.
Jim Owens, served in 1957 and played for the Colt .45's/Astros from 1964-1967.
Don Larson, served in early '50's and played for the Colt .45's/Astros in parts of the 1964 and 1965 season.
Gordon Jones, served in the early '50's and played for the Colt. 45's/Astros in the 1965 and 1965 season.
If you know of players that I missed please add them to the comment section below. Also, I want to recognize fans who have served or are still serving in the military. Feel free to add yourself and any one else you want recognized.
I myself served in the Navy from 2001-2007. I joined shortly before 9/11 and was in training when that event occurred. Unfortunately -- or fortunately depending on your point of view -- I never saw time in the Middle East, despite volunteering twice for opportunities that would have sent me over there. Never the less I'm proud of my time served and the work that I accomplished while serving.
My Grandfather served in the Navy during World War II, my dad served in the Army for 20 years during the '80's, 90's and 00's and three of my cousins served in the Army post 9/11.
Despite society's drive for peace the truth of the matter is that war is a fact of life. There has always been war and there will always be war and that means that good men and good women will have to make sacrifices, even during peace time, to ensure the freedom's of life and the pursuits of happiness. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.
The Pat Tillman's of the world are a rare breed. An athlete willing to give up millions to serve their country just doesn't happen very often. That's not meant to admonish today's player but instead to recognize what players during the '40's and 50's, and even the rare athlete today, gave up to serve their country.
Before I wrap this up -- I fear I've rambled on too long -- I want to recognize the baseball players who never made it to the Major Leagues. With the millions that died during all the wars there has to be a potential Hall of Famer in their, right? But I don't want you to focus on that missed potential instead I want you to honor that sacrifice. Without that Hall of Fame sacrifice we don't enjoy some of the liberties we have today and that's not a bad thing.
So in closing thank you to all that have served and still serve today.