World Series is filled with Augusta connections

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.


– George F. Will

It’s been fun to watch the World Series because of all the Augusta connections, but then we’ve always had them.

George Stallings, a Richmond Academy grad, managed the famous “Miracle Braves” of 1914 to a remarkable comeback and World Series victory.

Ty Cobb came back to Augusta to nurse his wounded ego after disappointing efforts in 1907, ’08 and ’09 when his Tigers lost all three Series contests and Ty hit only .262.

There was better luck for Jim Bagby, who returned here after the 1920 World Series in which he not only won a game for the champion Cleveland Indians but also hit a home run, the first pitcher to do so in the major league postseason.

This month, Augusta’s baseball hits continue.

In the first game of the 2012 World Series, former Augusta GreenJacket Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs, a rare Series feat that surprises most of us who saw him play in Augusta six years ago when he hit only one home run in 117 games.

The San Francisco closer is Sergio Romo, perhaps a bigger star on that 2006 Augusta team, which he led with a 10-2 record and 95 strikeouts.

Most of us remember Game 2 winner Madison Bumgarner, the highly touted young draft pick from North Carolina who was almost unhittable in Augusta’s championship 2008 season.

I say “almost” because his first professional appearance here was probably his worst. With family, including his grandmother, watching from the stands, Bumgarner got hit hard and left the game early.

I turned to The Chronicle’s baseball writer Billy Byler in the press box and said, “If this guy ever turns into a star, we can tell everybody we saw his first pro game and he was terrible.”

Thursday night, however, he was brilliant and got the win in a 2-0 Giants shutout.

But I saved the best for last.

Before Thursday night’s game, the Giants honored our nation’s military for its service and featured a film of baseball stars who served in World War II. There was Bob Feller and Hank Greenberg and Warren Spahn and Jerry Coleman.

And there was Lou Brissie, who lives in North Augusta.

Brissie, as most of you know, suffered horrible wounds in combat and underwent more than 20 operations to regain his health. He returned to baseball and became not only a starting pitcher for the A’s but also made the 1949 All-Star team.

It was an impressive program, as impressive as the Marine triple amputee asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Standing beside Willie Mays, Nick Kimmel took the ball and threw a strike.

A perfect pitch for a perfect night of baseball.

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