Filed under: Beckett Media, Hall of Fame, MLB, NFL, Pro Sports | Tags: American history, Bob Feller, Heroism, Military, Pat Tillman, Rocky Bleier, Ted Williams, Veterans Day
By Andrew Tolentino | Assistant Editor
Instead of heading straight home after work today, I plan on taking a northbound trek to pay Veterans Day respects to my grandfather. Thanks to a spirit that can’t quit, all-around toughness and an equally gritty grandmother who vehemently monitors his medication and diet, my grandfather, aka “Chief,” is a living wealth of World War Two stories and tales from a different time.
Even with a name like Horace Narvel, he’ll probably never appear on a sports card, but I’m fine with that.
While he never hit a pitch from Bob Feller, my grandfather fought the same fight as the Baseball Hall-of-Famer. Feller, who is recognized as the first MLB player to volunteer for the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor, served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater. Sailing aboard different ships, they never saw combat together; but, in war, they became veterans forever. Joining the likes of their shipmates and future military personnel, Fellers and my grandfather joined a lineage of honor, unaffected by celebrity status or athletic stardom.
Putting professional sports prowess aside for dedicated acts of patriotism, players like Feller, Ted Williams, Rocky Bleier and Pat Tillman stand on the same heroic grounds as their fellow veterans. Equalized by the honor of service, every man and woman in uniform, professional athlete or not, has earned a place in our collective memory.
This is why my grandfather takes a monthly trip to the airport to greet the troops as they return home. This is why his walker dawns two miniature American flags. This is why flags are flying at half-staff today. This is why we remember the retired, the fallen and the fighting today.
As it pertains to collecting, Veterans Day presents a special opportunity to discuss veterans of war and professional play. Although cardboard could never truly tribute the patriotism of our military heroes, there are plenty of players who served in the armed forces. Drawing parallels between the pitcher and my grandfather, Fellers holds a special place in my heart.
Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a Hall-of-Famer, who are you honoring today?
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