Veteran watches namesake horse run at Aiken Trials

"Not bad. Not bad at all."

That was Lou Brissie's reaction Saturday to a second-place finish by the horse named after him in the third race at the 68th Running of the Aiken Trials.

But, if the race had lasted longer, it could've been a first-place finish, added Brissie, a North Augusta resident, World War II veteran and former professional baseball player.

"He was closing in fast," he said. "I really enjoyed watching him."

Lou Brissie the horse is a 2-year-old Limehouse owned by Dogwood Stable.

The stable's president, Cot Campbell, named the horse after reading Brissie's biography, The Corporal Was A Pitcher: The Courage of Lou Brissie, by Ira Berkow.

"I read the book about Lou Brissie and was greatly moved by his career and heroism in the war," Campbell said. "I contacted him; we had lunch and ended up becoming great friends."

When he asked Brissie if it would be OK to name the horse after him, Brissie didn't hesitate.

"I told him it certainly would," Brissie said. "It would be a great honor."

Brissie signed his first professional baseball contract with Connie Mack and the Philadelphia A's in 1941. When the war started, he enlisted, putting off his pro career. In 1944, Brissie was wounded in a mortar attack. Both of his ankles were broken, and the bones in his lower left leg were broken into many pieces.

After many surgeries, he was determined to return to baseball.

"I think part of it came from Mr. Mack, who owned my baseball contract, and when he heard I had been injured he wrote me a letter and told me, 'Your job is to get well and when you think you're well enough to play, I'll see you get the opportunity,' " he said.

"I think realizing that I had that opportunity made a difference. My dad was an awfully determined person, and I believe I got that nature from him, so I believe that had something to do with it too."

He reported in 1946 but had to go back to the hospital and returned to the game in 1947. In 1951, he was traded to Cleveland, where he played until the spring of 1954, he said.

Lou Brissie the horse came to the stable last fall as an inexperienced yearling but has progressed quickly, said trainer Ron Stevens.

"He had never seen a saddle or bridle or anything," Stevens said. "We showed him what a saddle was and got him used to riding. He just steadily got better and better. He did well today. This is going to be a nice horse. This gave him some good experience."

Brissie has a name to live up to -- something Stevens and Campbell believe will be no problem. "He's very athletic, and I think today has been a great step in his training," Stevens said. "He's only going to move forward from there."

Aiken Trial Results

FIRST TRIAL

First place: Cordial; Dogwood Stable, owner; Ron Stevens, trainer; Salvador Torres, jockey

Second place: Rutledge Ck Writer

SECOND TRIAL

First place: Firepole; Dogwood Stable, owner; Ron Stevens, trainer; Alejandro Campos, jockey

Second place: Stormy The Cat

THIRD TRIAL

First place: Any Time Now Slew; Bill Birkett, owner; Kelly Tucker, trainer; Chad Frederick, jockey

Second place: Lou Brissie

FOURTH TRIAL

First place: Eli Yale; Pam Gleason, owner, trainer and jockey

Second place: Aztec

FIFTH TRIAL

First place: Deets; Dogwood Stable, owner; Ron Stevens, trainer; Alejandro Campos, jockey

Second place: Limehouse Liz

SIXTH TRIAL

First place: Stiletto Ridge; Lawrence O'Brien, owner/trainer; Bo Burns, jockey

Second place: Blackberry Road

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